Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Government Shutdown: Furlough Day 1

For Montanans near me, the closure of Glacier National Park is a really big deal.  Even their Facebook page is on hold until the end of the furlough.  Montanans and tourists in national parks had up to 48 hours to vacate, but only if they were lodging inside the park, according to one social media account from a photographer on their way out of Yellowstone.

Federal agency employees drove up Badrock Canyon this morning, required to report to work to be given furlough instruction, as for other federal employees across the nation.

It was obviously not a complete suprise, but we were recently told we'd be working through the end of the week, so it was still suprising.  All the versions of furlough I imagined included, at the very least, the field trip with 3rd and 4th graders that was slated to happen this week.  This was the first piece that was disproportionately difficult to get my head around.

The second piece was that we were given four hours to follow the instructions given in packets of documents we had to sort through.  There weren't really too many items of importance, but the number of pages and documents involved was overwhelming.  Submitting time took more than the allotted four hours, because 800,000 people were trying to submit their time at the same time.

When I finally got home, I had to keep trying to get into our paycheck program all day until it finally worked.

So, my first day plan, having texted my husband that we were furloughed, was to help him build the new duck house before more rain set in.

That was 9 am, but it wasn't until 3:40 pm that I was actually able to help.  And it started raining hard by 3:50 and pouring by 4 (by which time my son arrived on the bus and we were headed to the high school to pick up my daughter from speach and debate).

Part of the reason I'm considering that noteworthy is that the facebook dialogue amongst employees regarding what they planned to do seemed to be a resounding "clean my house".  It kind of made me chuckle but also made me annoyed that the simple act of submitting time took my entire day.

I kept feeling like there was something I was supposed to be doing, or that something was falling through the cracks (I have a LOT of work to do, and I tend to consider my work to be important and worth while).  I think largely it was the idea I had had prior to furlough that I would somehow at least get to follow through with that field trip.  The amazing coworker coordinating it (with a little help from me) had put a lot into it, and it was so sad to have to cancel.

My Furlough Plans So Far:

1. Fly to Seattle to see my LLMD (I can fly for free at the moment, and my insurance will pay for office visits but not phone visits, but I had too much work to do to make it to Seattle for an appointment).

2.  MEET MY NIECE in Seattle (I was sick the last time I went for an appointment, so it was safer not to expose her to weird Montana germs).

3.  Detour to San Francisco by Saturday to participate in the Lyme disease rally to protest IDSA diagnosis and treatment guidelines that delay treatment for thousands of people (including me, but that now has its own blog).

4.  Meet more babies in San Francisco (friends' babies that I haven't met yet).

5.  Post a lot of BAT WEEK info in advance of BAT WEEK later this month and forward lots of awesome social media that's already circulating.

6.  Clean my house and help in my son's classroom.

Hopefully AT LEAST the first two are feasible.  It seems a shame to miss the rally when I can fly for free.  But I had meetings all week at work, so catching a flight between Friday's all day meeting/field trip wouldn't have been feasible.

As unsettling as this is, I was here before during my EEO complaint to save my job.  I was given a long letter of instruction requiring me to request leave under the threat of discipline.  I had to comply, awaiting a reasonable accommodations decision (a process supposedly required to take less than 28 days) that did not come for more than six more months, and not allowed to work or get payed for SIX MONTHS.  This stinks for lots of people, but there are no lawyers threatening me and it just hasn't really been that long since government processes took all of the financial resources we had.

We have kept our house and are slowly rebuilding security since that ordeal.  And I'm slowly getting back my health (having finally been diagnosed with lyme disease).  This will certainly not help us financially, but it's just nowhere near as scary as what I've already been through.

Still, it's not a feeling I'd have wanted my coworkers to have to experience, even if just briefly, and in a less scary form.

On a happier note, her's an uplifting clip I just saw on TV.  War veterans who'd traveled to see the WWII memorial 'breaking in' to the memorial.


Time to put the kids to bed, and we'll see what happens next...


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