By Tim Hayakawa

It’s my turn. I take a stance and bring the bat down in a loose practice waggle, concentrating on the ball hidden in hand behind the pitcher’s back.

It comes in high and outside, and my bat pivots around — crack! The ball hisses away, straight and to the right on a low, rising trajectory. Bat on ground, I strain and surge forward, though my legs feel heavy and ponderous.

The crowd roars as I round first base. Rounding second, I see coach at third twirling an arm and pointing toward home.

The final stretch lasts forever as I accelerate toward the catcher who’s blocking the plate.

Fully extended, I dive forward and feel my chest and forearms graze the ground, and raw hide and hardened plastic slam against my elbow, helmet, shoulder and back. I continue to slide and come to rest with the catcher’s mitt and fisted ball against my left foot, shoving to dislodge it from home plate.

The umpire, bent double, seems unsure what just happened.

I’m not sure myself. One, two, three moments pass, and still nothing happens. Finally, there’s a tentative fist shake and a “You’re out” muttered, low and gravelly.

Denied again!

That’s been my experience in civil service when ever I’ve requested a raise or applied for a promotion, except for once long ago.

Why? Is it my ego? My age? My inflexibility or insensitivity? My lack of drive or ambition? An inherent laziness or aversion to long hours, stress, endless meetings, or social gatherings, small talk and greasings?

I don’t know. But I’m content more or less with my current job. Climbing the corporate ladder isn’t for everyone, and I find that I like being one of the humble, quiet contributors that’s out of sight and out of mind and largely shielded by my boss from the ugly stuff that flows down from above. And it’s not as if anyone working for the state makes tons of money anyway.

Dreaming about being on top can be fun: “You’re out!” I imagine saying to a job applicant. Until I envision his hurt and dejected reaction. I know it’s just business, but I’d still take it hard — not the stuff of get-tough managers, I know, so it’s probably best that I stay where I am, a lower-level supervisor not in charge of personnel make-or-break decisions.

After all, work isn’t a game, and life is more than money, raises, jobs and promotions, as family, friends, love and faith come first. So when it comes to career, thankfulness for work is always top priority, regardless of pay, responsibility, power or prestige.

Tim Hayakawa is an accountant who blogs at