Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Waiting and Wondering

How can I possibly not blog today? I warn you in advance - I have nothing interesting or new to offer. I just need to write.

We only have a couple of days before the current continuing resolution expires and we're forced into a government shut down. Congress has not yet been able to reach consensus on a budget or a new CR, and the jury's out on whether they will. I honestly have no idea. I just know I hope they do.

Rumors are swirling everywhere. At work, among friends, in the news, online, on Facebook, on blogs, and now I think some are even developing in my mind as I wrestle with all the implications. There were more than a few water cooler conversations today. And my Facebook and Blogger newsfeeds were filled with speculation and questions and worries and shock at the potential shutdown.

I am a federal worker. I do not yet know whether my position is essential. Since it's our weekend, we will be among the first federal workers to face the reality of a shutdown on Saturday morning. I'd get to work only an hour after the expiration of the current CR. I'll be going in regardless to find out what's what. What remains to be seen is whether I stay. And whether and/or when I get paid if I stay. And same if I go.

The uncertainty is the worst part. I am not going to comment on how the potential shutdown has been and is being handled throughout the government, mostly because I have no reference point. I was in elementary school in 1996 and have no memory of the last shutdown. I don't know how it was handled. It's an insanely difficult task for anyone, and I don't envy the decision makers and contingency planners.

I am a little disappointed in those Congresspeople who think that their own families would suffer more if they didn't receive a paycheck during a shutdown than the average federal worker's. Putting aside the question of the accuracy of this line of thinking, it is dripping with irony. I'm lucky because a few days of unpaid furlough won't ruin me. It'll hurt, and things will be tight for a while, but it's not the end of the world. But if days turn into weeks... It's a scary thought.

I have no solution (except to implore Congress to pass a workable budget). I have no wisdom to share. I have no answers to the tough questions. I just have a lot of uncertainty and a lot of frustration. And a weekend of waiting and wondering. So I'm going to the grocery store in the morning. If I can't work, I might as well cook.

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