If you're the sort of person who is interested in trying to get/have/find a federal law enforcement Special Agent job, you don't have to go too far before you start hearing about how incredibly long it takes to get hired on with a federal law enforcement agency.
We're talking... a looooooooooooooong time, you guys.
So back in 2006 when James was first starting to try to go from DHS to something federal law-enforcement-y, he cast his job application net super duper wide. It's what you have to do if you want to get on somewhere. This is because some places go through hiring freezes, or some places have their budgets cut, or some places only hire a dozen people every other year, or what have you. Trying to get a federal law enforcement Special Agent job really is almost like playing the lottery. Some folks end up getting lucky; some don't.
So anyway, back to 2006 and James' wide net. It includes lots of three-letter-non-word agencies, as it should. He goes pretty far with one agency just to be told that they imposed a brand-new hiring freeze just as he was nearing the end. He goes pretty far with another, just for them to lose his paperwork during a piece of the process. Talk about one bummer after another, and none of them his fault.
Time goes by.
Then, one day in January of 2008 his loud and obnoxious wife shows him the Special Agent position announcement that the State Department has just opened. And it sounds FABULOUS! (Yes, of course I am the heroine of this story: THIS IS MY BLOG.) He fills out all the stuff and takes all the tests and passes everything on the first try (hello: HE IS AWESOME) and from the day he applied online to the day he is hired and officially starts training, only about eight months goes by (yes, he didn't even spend a single day on the Register, and yes, there was one, so eat your heart out). TALK ABOUT FAST! In federal law enforcement job land, years can go by just for *just one single step,* and yet here he is! Hired! Start to finish in just about eight months! It's literally like a dream come true!
So James goes to FLETC. And he does a lot of pushups and runs a lot and stuff. Or whatever they do there. And one day, while he's at FLETC, his cell phone rings. And it goes to voicemail, because he is busy in class or running or whatever. But the person who called left a message, and the message is as follows:
"This is Special Agent So-and-So from the ATF. We're pleased to offer you our next class as a Special Agent. Please call me back so we can confirm."
Well, James hadn't heard a word from the ATF for so long he didn't even know he was still in the process with them. So he calls Special Agent So-and-So from the ATF back and says, Thanks, but I'm now with State and I'm at FLETC with them, so thank you but no thank you, I'm staying put with State.
And the ATF guy literally is INCREDULOUS and tells my husband on the phone that NO ONE has EVER said NO to the ATF and he has to have James' no in writing because he just can't even believe he is being told no. Because, again, this never happens.
So James writes him or emails him or whatever (it's been a while so I can't recall which) telling him no in writing, and life goes on.
Years pass. James is happy as a clam with State and we burrow in. And now we're in China. As you know.
A couple of weeks ago, out of the clear blue nowhere, James gets an email sent to a very old personal email address. CONGRATULATIONS, the email says to James and many other people, but YOU, LUCKY YOU have been selected to continue on with the Special Agent hiring process with the US Postal Service! Be in Orlando in a week and bring (this freaking huge stack of original) documents with you and we will see you then!
Things are very busy here in China and James is tired. But amused. And we both look at the email and James wonders aloud if and when he even applied to the Postal Service. Do either of us even recall such a thing?
And we put our heads together and come up with our best estimation: We suppose that he must have applied (or they wouldn't be emailing him?) and we suppose it therefore must have been circa 2006. And certainly he heard nothing since then, so we've both quite forgotten that he even submitted an application SIX. YEARS. AGO. (I'm telling you... federal law enforcement job hiring can go veeeerrrrrryyyy slooooooooowly.)
James and I both forget about the email. Because he sure isn't going to be in Orlando with his freaking huge stack of original documents on that date, that's why. James tells some fellow DS folks here and there about the email and they all get a good chuckle out of the situation.
A few days pass. Then, again out of the clear blue nowhere James gets a PERSONALIZED email, this time from a Ms. So-and-So., THANKING HIM FOR HIS CONTINUED INTEREST IN A SPECIAL AGENT POSITION WITH THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE (!!!!!) and directing him and his freaking huge stack of original documents to Orlando in three days. And to call her with any questions. James hadn't responded to the original widely-sent-out email, so they were reaching out again just to be sure, I guess.
James tries to call Ms. So-and-So, but it's, of course, not business hours in the US, so another day goes by.
Then James gets an email from Mr. Postal Service Special Agent Such-and-Such, and a few hours later he gets a VOICEMAIL from Mr. Postal Service Special Agent Such-and-Such (left on a very old phone number's voice mail), inquiring as to Orlando in two days and the freaking huge stack of aforementioned original documents.
So, yeah. All that to say: James didn't make it to Orlando and neither did his stack of documents. Not that he would have gone, as he's quite happy where he is thankyouverymuch, but the whole thing is rather amusing.
So just in case you or a friend of yours ever hears rumors about how applying for a federal law enforcement Special Agent job can take a SERIOUSLY LONG TIME, now you know just how long it can actually take in reality! Six years, my friend. Six years from the opening up of a job announcement online until the job process begins. That's not even from the opening of the announcement to the *hiring* for the position, that's just from opening the announcement to when the process BEGINS: six years.
And that, you guys, is a long, loooooooooooooong time.