Friday, February 12, 2010

FSI: Federally Supervised Instructions

There is a hierarchy within the Foreign Service Office, and clearly, I’m the low man on the totem pole.

It is more complex than this, but for my sake, here is a pretty basic breakdown. On the top are the Pickering Scholars; they’re like the Skulls and Crossbones secret society of the State Department Foreign Service branch.

Next in line come the outside-a-magical-50-mile-radius hires who inexplicably are bestowed gifts of exuberant per diems. Third place belongs to the locally hired who apparently don’t need money as badly as their not-locally-hired counterparts.

A distant, distant fourth are the Extra Filework for Management (EFMs) who do not have jobs. And there at the bottom, are the Employed For the Moment (another use of EFM) people like me.

I think I understand why we are at the bottom. It is because we don’t really need much from the FS office, and they really don’t have much to give us.

I caught a little glimpse of how little of importance I am to the FS office through the Federally Supervised Instructions (FSI; and yes, that is a downgrade from Free Studies Inside status on the Official Unofficial Chart of Acronyms).

Yesterday, until Snowstorm 5.0 rendered D.C. utterly useless, again, I was supposed to be at FSI attending a course entitled “Post Options for Employment and Training.”

But before I move forward with the story, let me paint the complete picture.

The class was advertised for those who need help finding employment and for those who already have employment and what they need to know about taking that job abroad with them. At the time I was signing up, I wasn’t sure which category I would fall under, but it seemed like a class I should attend.

The problem, however, is that this class was being offered in the middle of the work week, which makes it a little more difficult for those of us lucky enough to have jobs to attend.

And for the uninitiated, it is not like the FSI does not offer weekend courses. I know because I took one already on overseas protocol and etiquette, which is a whole different blog post of its own that I’m saving for a rainy (or snowy) day.

Seems to me that a course about employment for EFMs would be ideal for one of FSI’s weekend seminars, but I digress.

No big deal; I’ll lie. I asked about obtaining the lecture material because I couldn’t get off work. I received a response that they don’t have any material to send and if I can’t make the course this time to try again in the future as it is offered four times per year.

So that didn’t work, so I’ll just take the day off work to attend. Mother Nature had other plans, and as a result, evened up the score to Mother Nature 1, EF’M 1.

While there were announcements the Federal Government was closed on Thursday, I guess it was too much to send an e-mail to the enrolled to let us know the course also was cancelled. Are they re-scheduling the course? Do I have to wait until it is offered three months from now to try and take it again? No word from FSI.

And I learn a little more about my place on the bottom.

At 3:04 p.m. today (Friday), I finally received my notice that Thursday's "course offering has been canceled." Whew, what a relief, and only about a day and a half after the event.

It also is worth noting that by noon today, Natalie had already received information about the class being cancelled and for when it is being re-scheduled. My notice just said someone would be in touch with the re-scheduled date. I'll probably receive that notice the day after the course is over, too.

Oh well, this is what is to be expected when left to the hands of the government.


  1. (The following is dripping with sarcasm...)

    WHAT? You didn't love Every. Last. Second. of the protocol and etiquette class for us spouses?

    How could you now have LOVED the four hours or so on etiquette at an embassy function?

    About how you MUST RSVP within 24 hours of the invitation - you MUST show up if you are invited - you MUST show up early and offer to help
    decorate - you MUST NOT eat the food, because the food is NOT for YOU - you MUST mingle in the crowd - you MUST allot each person about 10 minutes of your time and try to talk to everyone - the thou-shalt-nots about flowers and place settings - and the quiz?

    This wasn't everything you ever wanted to know as a new State spouse... and more?


    (Sarcasm aside now... I literally could not BELIEVE that they made us take a QUIZ at the end of that class. A QUIZ! I wanted so badly to ask, "Will my husband get a better rating on his employee review paperwork if I do well on this quiz?" But I didn't. I'm not THAT brave.)

  2. Our course might have been a little different, unless the quiz you are referring to is the seating arrangement exercise.

  3. Oh good!

    I took my etiquette class over a year ago, so maybe they've changed the curriculum since then. Which would have been a good thing. :)