The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 17, 2008
UPDATE: A 'cubicle cowboy' sings for food

This item first ran on Dec. 10. We're posting it again to to complement our story in today's Bee about John "Happy Jack" Hastings, the "cubicle cowboy." Scroll down to find the link to an audio download of his popular song, "The State Worker Blues."

Hastings last weekend shot footage around town for a music video. He tells The State Worker that he plans to wrap up editing this weekend. We'll debut it here early next week.



Hi Jon:

I am a +30-year state employee. For the past four years, I have been performing a song I wrote called "The State Worker Blues" at the Department of Health Care Services/Department of Public Health food drive talent show. Every year I update it to throw in a little something about our current state of affairs.

My colleagues have been insistent about sharing this song with you and, never being the shy and retiring type, I soon relented. Anyway, the lyrics follow and are also available at, of course, along with a link to the Sacramento Food Bank which is really what I hope to draw attention to.

Anyway, this cubicle cowboy has got a lot of pencils to push, so adios for now ...

John "Happy Jack" Hastings

We're honored to debut the 2008 version of "The State Worker Blues." You can listen to the 4 minute, 54 second clip by clicking here.

While you're listening to Happy Jack, click here to go to the Sacramento Food Bank's Web site. You can make a donation online through a link at the bottom of the home page.

The State Worker Blues

words and music by Jack Hastings

When I was a kid my Momma said son
Don't work for the State like your daddy done
It ain't a lot of money and it ain't a lot of fun
And you'll owe your soul to the Golden One
But the private sector ain't where it's at
Got tired of sayin' you want a mocha latté with that?
So I took me a test, got on a list
Started pushin' that paper and I done my best


I got the state worker blues
I been payin' my dues
Have you heard the good news?
... well, there ain't none!

For year after year we done more with less
And the less got less,
now there's less than nothin' left
If you want a paperclip
you gotta get your chief to sign
And they're handing out staples one at a time
And every time I try to spell "relief"
I get D E F I C I T
And every year I think that we've hit rock bottom
The blues get deeper and I've still got 'em


Now the gubernator, he came up with a plan
A little bit of song and a little bit of dance
Gonna take away our holidays and cut our pay
All for a penny or two it might save
But if the Legislature sees eye to eye
That'll be the day that pigs can fly
So just sit back and enjoy the show
As around and around the drain we go


Now I'm not complaining about my fate
The food at the potlucks is always first rate
And I'll tell Saint Peter at the Pearly Gate
That I'm proud to be a worker for the Golden State
And my fellow state workers are as good as gold
Helpin' out the people who are hungry and cold
So to the best civil servants in all of the land...
This is for you, give yourselves a hand!



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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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