Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Don't tread on me

Horrible, isn't it? It looks like the border outpost of a country of ruin.
Oh, wait. It is.
Yet the Dominic Street dole office isn't just a mire of sterile floors, broken ticket machines and colourful language.
In a post-boom society where we we're all looking to beat ourselves with images of how terrible we've become, it's become something of a poster boy. It's the second busiest social welfare office in the country now; a place racked by long queues, overworked staff and general melancholy.
But we can't get enough of it.
Carl O'Brien of The Irish Times, one of more admirable writers in the Irish media, had a piece about it last Saturday.
And of course, The New York Times chose to send Landon Thomas Jr there after swilling his head with notions after a few days in Sean Dunne's company.
The Chalkboard will admit it - he has a soft spot for that red brick leviathan at the top of Cecil Street. He worked there two summers in a row as an impressionable young scamp falling in love with money all over again.
They're good people up there, despite what the stereotypes suggest. They are, after all, on the front lines of poverty, injustice and hardship.
The rest of society can, will and has bitched to high heaven about public servants.
Say what you will about senior departmental secretaries courting a Minister's ear, but the COs, SOs and EOs in the trenches in the department of social and family affairs do not deserve our scorn.
They're working a hell of a lot harder than you or I at this moment in time.

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