I am a nonessential federal employee. This is my shutdown.
Some good news arrived early on Saturday. The House of Representatives unanimously voted in favor of giving federal employees back pay after the shutdown is over, and the president supports the measure. I’m of two minds on this development. On one hand, I’m glad I’m going to receive a big paycheck when all this craziness ends, and I should be able to pay my bills on time (though it might get tricky if the shutdown lasts longer than a month). On the other hand, if the House unanimously agrees it’s unfair for federal employees to have unpaid leave, why can’t they just, you know, put us back to work? I want to earn my paycheck, and I’m certain I’m not the only one who feels this way.
On Friday I went to a shutdown party in Capitol Hill where the host specifically noted that federal employees need not bring any food or drink. I was one of a few feds there, and I appreciated some of the more clever touches. In the bathroom, for example, the host printed out the question, “ARE YOU ESSENTIAL?” on white paper and pasted it onto the mirror. The host also started a shutdown-themed pet Tumblr, which is effective because, in a Buzzfeed sort of way, she understands that political outrage is at its most potent when cute animals accompany it.
The other good news is that, in spite of the shutdown, the weekend still felt like the weekend. I went to Columbia Heights Day on Saturday, where crowds lined up for food trucks and D.C. flag t-shirts. This is in contrast to the city during the week, when the streets were more empty and the neighborhood felt relatively abandoned.
The evening took an intriguing turn: At a party on 11th Street NW, someone introduced the game Text Roulette, in which someone would take my phone, find one of my contacts, and write a silly and/or suggestive message. The composer would then read the text, announce to whom it might be sent, and give me the option of sending it or drinking a shot. We continued in this vein until everyone got a turn. I didn’t send any texts I regret, in case you’re wondering, and the game was a welcome reprieve from the increasingly grim furlough discussion.
Sunday felt similarly normal. I went to a friend’s house for brunch, a monthly book club meeting, then to a show at DC9. It was the best kind of D.C. weekend, really—-which meant Monday now feels especially dreary. I’m back in limbo when most of my friends are at the office, and the weather took a turn for the worse. Today’s conditions are not good for a bike ride, which means I’ll finally give in and spend most of the day in front of the TV. Thank goodness my parents share their HBO GO account with me.