Saturday, October 05, 2013

Shut Down


It's been a weird week here in Washington. On Monday, we dutifully reported to our respective offices, working feverishly to complete everything that needed to be done over the next few days on the off chance that the government was unable to reach some sort of agreement regarding its budget. On Tuesday we reported to these same offices to record phone greetings and email auto-responses informing people that due to the current fiscal disagreement, we wouldn't be able to help them and if they left a message we'd get back to them when the government re-opened. Then we secured our offices, went home and drank (ok, technically we played tennis first).

It really shouldn't have come as a surprise that our government would eventually implode, after all, we've been doing "shut-down" prep every nine months or so and our last debt ceiling crisis was a little less than two years ago. But typically, these things involve a flurry of activity at the last minute allowing us to just skirt disaster, and this time there was no activity at all.


So we hunkered down. We organized things in the house. And I calculated just how much this was costing us in lost wages (enough to hurt, in addition to the thousands Allen lost being furloughed nine days earlier this year due to the Sequester). By day three of the shutdown, we started the process of applying for unemployment insurance shortly before we picked our kids up from school where our daughter had been in lock-down due to a shoot-out with the Capitol Police two blocks from her campus. It was a pretty bad day.

It's hard not to take much of this personally. Allen works for the EPA and I spent a fare amount of time over the past three years working on ACA related stuff -- which means we're both on Ted Cruz's hit list. And while we're spending a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves (we do, after all, have a lot of time on our hands just now), we recognize that we're pretty lucky. We don't live paycheck to paycheck or have crushing debt or medical bills which means that even if we don't receive back pay (though it looks like we might), we'll be fine. A lot of federal workers won't be.

And so we continue to wait. And hang pictures. And work on our back hands. And drink increasingly lower quality alcoholic beverages. And do yard work at Katherine and Lee's place for food.  And hope that one day we'll get a tweet that we can actually go back to work.


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