The longest Government shutdown in American history ended on Friday and my office welcomed me back to work. It’s back to normal….well almost. I still have not been paid back and the next payday is still 10 days away so, yes, I’m still needing to pay my bills.
Even with being back to work, the dark cloud of another shutdown looms in three weeks as this temporary reprieve is almost certain to result in yet another government shutdown.
I was encouraged that more and more companies were starting to help out furloughed government workers with food and assistance with our bills. It really got off to a slow start. It was really nice that the Nashville Zoo offered free admission to us in spite of the haters.
I was disappointed in the Robins Financial Credit Union for not providing better assistance to me after 35 years of being a member. Since Robins Air Force Base wasn’t affected by the shutdown, I was one of the few customers who were affected by it. They did approve a loan but nothing to fit the situation and not as understanding as they would have been had the base been impacted by the shutdown.
It was encouraging that one of my past co-workers, mentor and friend offered me a loan to hold me over. That meant a lot to me that he offered.
Some financial institutions finally started offering some assistance such as PayPal which offered a one-time 0% APR cash advance up to a maximum of $500. Our local electric and gas companies also offered assistance thanks to our mayor. These were all nice gestures to help us in this very unique situation.
We are told to call our elected representatives which I did and I got their interns. How do you actually get to talk to your elected representative? How are you certain that your voice is being heard?
Then there were the haters who failed to see the difference between a government furlough and layoff. Until you’ve been through it, you truly can’t understand it and I have grown tired of explaining it. In this situation, you are left in limbo where you can’t really go out and get another job or function very well while politicians are withholding your paycheck. Contrary to what some of the millionaires suggested, I was not able to barter with my landlord for the rent, I couldn’t put my groceries on a tab and taking out a “small” loan still means interest that I will have to pay back which will cost more than my back pay. No, this certainly was no vacation.
I also didn’t like being called into work when I was originally deemed non-essential. I think they should do something where people who have to work during these shutdowns are paid extra. It doesn’t seem right that we all get paid back the same but I’m still glad we’re getting paid back. There is never any guarantee that will happen.
Three weeks and all this could happen again. There is clearly not enough time to save up enough money to survive another 30+ day shutdown. It isn’t fair that political debates can cause our paychecks to be withheld. Something should be done to keep any politician from using this hostage tactic in order to get a project passed. This isn’t the way we should function. It is really a helpless situation where you have to watch CNN or some other news source to find out when you are going back to work.
So you get paid for staying home? It’s not what you think. I spent several days staying home in a self-imposed house arrest so as not to spend any money and stressed about how the next bill was going to get paid. When I missed my second paycheck, the stress level was elevated and I was trying to find someone that would hire me for part-time or contract work. No, I assure you it wasn’t “fun”.
I don’t want sympathy because I know most people don’t really care and already have a low opinion of government employees as well as those we support. I also don’t want to be called a patriot or thanked for my sacrifice. This wasn’t done willingly for anyone. The shutdown took away my paychecks which I needed to support my family.
I think I can speak for my other 799,999 fellow government colleagues and say that we are happy to be back to work for you and able to support our families….for three more weeks.