It is 8:31 on a Monday morning, and I should be at work. Not only should I be, but I want to be.
I am, though, on an extended holiday vacation, courtesy of the federal government officials who have failed to pass a budget. Or, should I say, who refuse to.
I do not blame a certain party; only politics–politics and the inability to compromise in order to accomplish one of the government’s most important and basic tasks.
In my spare time, I’ve served three terms on a city council. We begin working on a budget for the upcoming year in July, and we make sure that it is complete by the end of September. We may not agree, but we all know that the budget must be complete, no exceptions, before the current budget expires. Streets need repaired, and the water treatment plant needs operated.
The federal government, though, no longer operates like that. I can’t remember the last time we started in October with a full year budget.
So, shouldn’t I enjoy my ‘vacation?’
I would, definitely, if I didn’t need the paycheck. Then again, I wouldn’t have this job at all if I didn’t need the paycheck.
“But you will receive back pay.” Maybe, when all of this is over. But how many paychecks can the average American skip? I have bills to pay in the meantime.
Luckily, I have some money put back. After the government shutdown in 2014, my wife and I have jokingly called our savings account the “furlough fund.” But furlough funds, like leftover turkey, don’t last forever.
At what point do I quit considering this a holiday vacation and consider myself unemployed? That’s the question. I have a master’s degree in education, but sixteen years of working as a manager for the federal government has made me a bit old for job seeking. That is, though, what I have been doing.
What would happen, I wonder, if when this shutdown is over, the agencies found that all of their furloughed employees found new jobs? Well, someone has to be first. Now, where’s that resume?