Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown 2013 Update No. 5

Well, I'm cheered up a bit more. Getting dressed, I found a symbolically purple shirt, a tad more blue than purple. Then I dug in my top drawer for the box that had my 20-year and 10-year Interior service pins. Together they make 30 which I have on the calendar, but not on service computation date until March 4 coming up. Then I snapped my government ID onto my lanyard and draped it over my head. That's something I rarely do because I so easily catch it and choke myself. Today I wanted to look the part of a federal employee.

As I came in the federal building, I showed my ID then saluted the photos of the President and Vice President and then saluted the Constitution up on the wall as I said to the guard, "That's some good stuff in there." (I know, you think I'm looney tunes. But that's just the way I am.)

The hallways were fairly empty as I got off the elevator and went to our suite's front door. It was locked. That was the first depressing sign. I went in and around to my office not touching the lights, the phone, or the computer. I live by the letter of the law when it suits my idealistic purposes.

There were a few others stirring in the office setting their voice mail messages, putting in their time codes for shutdown, cleaning things up. I had done all that on the way out or remotely just to prove I could do it. And you can't shut down a bureaucracy without a lot of bureaucratic hassle. There was a person who thought they might be "excepted" because they were "exempt" but it turned out there was a call in the middle of the night that they would be furloughed too as non-essential (let's just call it as it is.) I knew that our previous instructions weren't right that we could record official time this morning. They had it changed. That's why I had left mine as the minimum 15 minutes and had tried not to come in at all.

Our diligent, acting supervisor came around with the furlough notice to sign. And darn if I didn't leave my copy on my desk because I wanted to scan it in and post it here! I'll never see it for a while. I did make an extra copy and leave it in Senator Lee's office as my side-story illustrates. I went to our support person to find a big Sharpie and I signed in a flourish to rival John Hancock. Then, I visited with a few colleagues as we assisted each other in closing up.

The acting supervisor came around again and said that he had given us the wrong forms! He had the right form from DC which he printed off again for us. My first reaction (having already been stirred up into passion in Senator Lee's office) was, "I'm not signing again!" He very graciously said that we could do whatever we wanted and I apologized. I would have yelled the same at the real boss and he would have taken it just fine as we're old buddies. And I shouldn't have been so hard on our acting guy who was trying so hard and at some cost to his own well-being as he had a health issue he was concerned about and the additional stress wasn't helping. He deserves an award. So, I apologized a couple more times and signed again, with a big flourish, in an even nicer hand - although my standard signature is barely legible.

We got everything all straightened out and a few of us headed off to find some breakfast. I had to wait downtown to go to the UTA bus lost-and-found to pick up my smartphone that had slipped out of my pocket the day before. The world is still a good place. At least my bus is with all those U of U returned missionaries sitting in the back with me. Onward and upward.

My Aunt is coming by this afternoon and we plan to connect up with our cousin (her first-cuz, mine once removed) to talk about our family history projects and setting up our family organization. I told my work friends that they could probably find me during the shutdown at the LDS Family History or Church History Libraries until Congress gets its "act" together. It may be a long time in the libraries.

Stay tuned.

A Passionately Moderate and Proud Federal Employee

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  1. Thank you for what you do everyday. As I went through my friends last Monday, I admit I forgot that you would be laid off too. I will be getting in touch with your Senators and Representative tomorrow, as I have done for every other furloughed employee who is a friend. Most will ignore me, but like you putting on your pins, I feel that I should do it both because it is a show of solidarity, and because while I have contacted my Senators and Representative, I know that they will continue to vote to keep the government open, and have voted for the ACA, and Obamacare, each time it has come up. (Which means my Rep has lots of experience voting against tons of Republican tries to make it so I won't ever be able to afford healthcare.)

    Thank you, and I hope you are back to working hard to make the government work, much as it is fun to do Family History Research! (I wish I believed that there was a chance it would be soon.)

    1. I really like your Senator Wyden. For reasons I can't go into, at least his office knows me and in a positive way (even if they would never connect the dots.)

    2. I like Senator Wyden too. I worked on several of his campaigns when he was in the House, and as a teenager, not yet able to vote, I was impressed that he always made sure to answer questions from kids, at whatever event he was at, and especially at town hall style meetings. He once spent almost 10 minutes explaining the difference between being in the House of Representatives, and the Senate, to a boy who was 10 or 11. He would answer the question, and then ask him if he understood now, or had another question. It turned out that the boy had quite a few. One of the newer volunteers, asked Ron later why he took so much time on a kid who would never be able to vote for him. He just smiled and said that he planned to be around long enough to need that kid's vote, and every other grade school kid's vote, in the future. I was 13 or 14 at the time, and he was right. He has had a long political career, precisely because he thinks of 10 year-olds as his constituents, and pays attention to the, 8 years before they will first vote for him.

      I appreciate that I don't agree with everything he has ever done as a politician, but he isn't afraid to listen to why people disagree with him. While he will explain his thinking, he usually is more interested in whether there are ideas that no one is talking about, that someone wants to have considered. I've seen him turn a town hall meeting from a debate, to a brainstorming session, and its that willingness to share his thoughts, and listen to the ideas of others, that makes him a great lawmaker.

      He's also scary good at connecting dots, so he may not know your name, but if you introduced yourself and have him a couple dots, it might surprise you how fast he will know *who he's talking to.* ;-)


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