Furlough: Day One

Day One

Today, I received my Notice of Furlough from my government agency’s HR Department.

We, the furloughed ones, had four hours of paid time to “effect an orderly shutdown of their activities on October 1, if needed.”  That meant letting folks know you were going to be unavailable, putting on a scripted “out of the office” note on email and our government telephones.

On some level I know what it must feel like when a doctor sends you home after reviewing your medical reports and tells you to get your affairs in order.  Oh come on now…I know that is pretty mellow-dramatic…but not getting paid…while not working your job…while still having a job….is kinda hard on a gal.

I knew it was coming…because I know my job is considered “non-essential” during these times and I had gotten up a little past midnight Tuesday morning and read the news on-line that there was no last minute agreement in Washington.

On Monday when we still hoped for a resolution, I went into the office and took a phone call from a guy that wanted to stop the train horns from blowing near his home. On the call I gave him all the information he needed and he was very grateful. I gave him my contact number and told him that I might not be at work if the government closes.  “I hope they do shutdown the government.” he says. “Well, that would be a hardship to my colleagues and myself.” is all I could think to say.

What struck me was the flippancy of the remark.  Not a thoughtful one…just the buzz of the day.  It was painful to hear.  At my job…I hear a lot of painful stuff.  At least this was not directed to me personally.  I know how to handle painful talk. We continued with the train horn conversation and at the end he said, “I hope they don’t shutdown the government. You have been very helpful and sound like a nice lady.”

Oh well…just doing my job.  “Thanks” is all I could say.

For being furloughed, I am in a good place.  I have some savings, a freezer full of food, a supportive husband, lots of great friends and yoga.  I have stuff to do while I am off.  I baked Lonnie a batch of his special sugar free oatmeal cookies.

However…I have really never been unemployed…since I was 19 years old, for nearly 40 years, I have worked full time.  Sometimes two or three jobs.   Yes, there was the occasional week or so between jobs…but it is weird.  If I had been normally laid off, I would probably have a new job by now.

This is a sort of limbo. Hopefully, it won’t last too long.

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