I have it easier than most, but this is not a vacation. A vacation is traveling to a National Park, escaping to the mountains, or flying to the beach to see friends and family. A vacation is hiking, indulging in restaurants, and exploring new places. A vacation is relaxing. This tension is not a vacation.
Please forgive my suspicions when it comes to the current “Oh it won’t happen” moments because guess what- it’s happening. These are very divisive political times and until the budgets and back pay are signed I can’t “just relax”. Then, and only then, will I be certain I will get paid for these days “off”.
I am taking time to do my best to enjoy these fall days and fill them with constructive activities, service to the greater good, and lots of school work. My days are not filled with lollygagging and sitting on beaches (now I do love beaches though I am very rarely caught lollygagging). So, for all those wondering what does a federal employee do while shutdown… here is my perspective:
I obsess about whether I should apply for unemployment. I mean if we get paid back I don’t need it but if we’re out for 21 days and I don’t apply was that a wise move?
Home projects…. the cheaper the better. That storage room is getting cleaned out, those papers in boxes are being sorted and recycled, the herbs have been preserved for the winter, and dishes are clean.
I come up with plan B, C, and all the way to ZZ. Who else do I know who is hiring? What other options are out there right now? I love my job- why am I looking at this again?
I connect to social media- not only to find out what Congress is doing (or not passing) but to see if there is anything I can pass onto my fellow federal employees. Occupy the Federal Land movements? Unemployment information? Or simply a supportive statement. Or Memes… I love those memes.
This Smokey one is the favorite so far:
I try not to snap at my non-fed friends asking…. so how are you enjoying your relaxing furlough? This is not a fun lark- though we are all trying to make the best of it.
I try to meet with friends for walks, coffee, or volunteering- we all feel a bit isolated and it’s good to spend some time discussing this with someone other than our spouses. Mine is a little tired of this being the primary topic of conversation. These sessions tend to be more therapy, less escape.
And studying… there’s always a test to study for, a book to read, or a paper to write.
I realize that for many of us this is a first world problem. This is nothing compared to the seasonal who moved across country to start on October 2nd and is stranded in a new place without a job yet. Or the student making less than $30,000 with student loans and no income for the foreseeable future. Or the joint federal family that is looking at not having 2 salaries for an unknown amount of time. Or the single mother who is asking about food banks as both her jobs are suddenly shut down since one is federal and the other is a federal partner. Those are the people who need our sympathy, our help, and action from Congress to end this shutdown.