PAUL BENJAMIN: Writer, Editor, Supermodel

My New Jobs (Not The Ones I Expected)

Just in time for Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and my last year in Uzbekistan, big changes are afoot!

In my last post, I mentioned that I was interviewing for a job that opened up at the embassy after the previous job owner left for her next assignment. The Public Affairs Assistant position was a perfect fit for me. I interviewed and the folks at the embassy agreed. After all, who could be more qualified to write for the embassy’s website than the resident supermodel? Unfortunately, someone in Washington who doesn’t know me or Lisa decided that it would be a violation of nepotism policy for me to work so closely with my wife. As a result, I can’t take that job and it remains unfilled.

Of course, I understand the need for nepotism policies. It wouldn’t be appropriate for my wife to be my direct supervisor. This is frustrating because I happen to know a husband and wife who had these exact same two jobs at this exact same embassy four years ago. It was okay for them to work together, but with the Foreign Service shuffling jobs every few years, whoever had to make the nepotism decision this time put the kibosh on the job for me. As a result, the embassy doesn’t simply have a less-qualified person in the PA Assistant job. It’s just empty. That means more work for everyone in the PA section.

So, what’s this about my new job? Well, the embassy hired me as a temp (in FS terms: a “When Actually Employed” position). As such, I’ll be a floater, helping out wherever I can with whatever projects I can. Guess who really needs my help right now? The Public Affairs section because they lack a PA Assistant.

I doubt I’ll be doing the exact same job. It wouldn’t be kosher to use this position as a workaround for the nepotism policy. However, I’ll definitely be doing some of the work I’d have done as the PA Assistant since there’s nobody to do it right now. Plus, I’ll be doing it for less pay and with none of the benefits or vacation/sick leave I’d have accrued as a PA Assistant. Am I annoyed? A little bit. However, I’ve never taken a job I didn’t plan to do to the best of my ability. I start Monday and I plan to jump in and do what I can to help the mission. It means money I can use to hire an artist plus it’ll help out my friends at the embassy.

Another big change for this final year in Uzbekistan is that I just got the rights back to one of my Tokyopop properties!! It’s a manga book I was doing with the stunningly talented artist Eden Benton before Tokyopop folded. She’s done a significant amount of work on the book and I’ve already scripted it, so this is a big win for us. Right now we’re exploring a campaign to raise money for producing the book. When that kicks off, I promise you’ll hear all about it as I look for your support in this new endeavor! Happy New Year!

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