Episode 1: Budget Justified (excerpt)

For more details about “Budget Justified,” the book & movie about working in FAA offices, see the Budget Justified web site.

Shot out of a second story window of Federal Agency Headquarters. Looking down, we see BARRY, a fifty-something government engineering manager in a suit, and JANE, a twenty-something professional-looking engineer, as they walk toward the entrance of the building.

Barry and Jane coming to work together? Glad I brought my camera.

…. As I wrote this, I imagined the parking garage at my former employer, an FAA contractor. Our building was in the suburbs where we had no contact with FAA employees. Management preferred it that way.

One morning as soon as one of my coworkers arrived at work, he came past my office and said, “I think your boss has a new girlfriend.”

This was a confusing statement to me. First of all, how would he have any information about my boss’s love life. Second of all, which boss was he referring to. It was a ‘matrixed’ organization. I had several project managers, I managed a project that was split into pieces and managed by other staff members, any of the supervisors in my department were allowed to ask me to work on something for them, and when my supervisor was unresponsive, his supervisors would come directly to me for support.

The most likely ‘boss,’ the one whom I talked to the most, was married. A quiet, decent man who didn’t go around harassing women.
It turned out that my coworker was indeed referring to my married boss. My coworker had seen Boss and one of his subordinates, a very ‘close friend’ of Boss, drive into work together that morning.

“You must be misinformed,” I told my coworker. Or maybe I said something more like, “What the hell are you talking about.”

In the weeks after that strange declaration of a new girlfriend, I noticed that Boss frequently snuck in and out of conference rooms, his office, and the entire building with his very close female ‘friend.’

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