I am currently sidelined by my employer during the Government shutdown. I have been deemed to be “non-excepted” which means they think I am not essential during the shutdown. I really don’t know how to take that. Although my co-workers who were tagged as being essential are still working without pay, I am not comfortable with being put on the sideline until the politicians can decide on funding the wall. I don’t like this situation one bit.
So I am doing odd jobs and chores around the house to keep busy until I get back in.
I have to reflect on this because I do become essential when an attorney needs a video clip or help with playing a file. Don’t tell me that I am “non-excepted” because I can assure you that I certainly become essential when they need something or help with an eDiscovery issue. I don’t know how they are managing those issues right now. Unfortunately, I am prohibited from helping. I suppose they are getting it done without me.
On the other hand, this may be a good thing. Maybe they will see exactly what I contribute to the mission on a daily basis. No, I’m not saying I am the most important person there but I am a team player and I do my part and I’m damn good at it. I have always taken pride in doing it and I want to be back doing it again. I’m completely frustrated that I am being forced to sit out because of some political tug-of-war.
Right now instead of managing data, complex databases issues or assisting the legal support staff with discovery or trial issues, I am trying to figure out how I am going to pay my bills and what I need to do to manage my budget while my paycheck is on hold. I would rather be dealing with a discovery issue than my household budget. I am confronting another stress that I hadn’t seen coming. I had projects that I had planned to work on now but I’m on the sideline.
Since 1996, I have been involved in litigation support duties for my employer. I have sat in the “hot seat” of hundreds of trials over the years. I have been the ringmaster of technology in the courtroom while assisting the legal team in presenting documents, photos, audio and video in the courtroom. The technology has changed so much over the time I have been doing this. While I first started, we had VHS tapes for video and audio cassette tapes for audio recordings. Today, the audio and video comes through in a variety of formats and software programs. Instead of easier, in many ways it has become more complex. If you ask any of the attorneys I have assisted in those trials, they would all tell you that I was very much essential. I wouldn’t be on the sideline like I am right now.
I have been through other shutdowns, furloughs and delayed paychecks. The last time I was also sent home but then when the workload was too much, I suddenly became essential and was asked to go in to handle it.
While the news only reports that the Government shutdown is causing trash to be out of control in the national parks, they ignore the hundreds of thousands or government workers who are forced to the sideline because they are not considered to be essential. Not much is said about that. Many of us would rather be back to work AND getting paid for it. Since I am not the employee who is not able to pick up the trash at a national park, most people won’t know or care that I am not able to do my job. It doesn’t matter to me what other people think. I know and that’s all that matters to me.
I don’t know how long I will be on the furlough bench. It doesn’t look too promising that I will be back in the game anytime soon. I can assure you that I will be ready when the call comes and whether or not my employer considers me essential or not I will get the job done as I always have throughout my career.