With the government shut down, my husband home on furlough, my neighbors, community and state struggling to figure out how to repair all our flood damage without federal help, and the growing possibility that Congress may not raise the debt ceiling, things feel scary.
I was a federal employee in 1995 during the last government shutdown. I was out of work from November 14 – 19 and then from December 14 – January 6. Local banks loaned federal employees the equivalent of their paychecks so that they could continue to pay their bills, and make it through Christmas with some semblance of normalcy. I don’t know what would have happened if we hadn’t received our back pay once the government re-opened.
But it wasn’t all about the money. Imagine if suddenly you were told that you couldn’t go to work because you were “non-essential.” What would you do? I tried sneaking into the office, but the BLM ranger caught me, escorted me to the door, and told me, with a sad smile, to go home. I know that I wasn’t the only employee to get the bums rush. We all just wanted to do our jobs and it took us a long time to get over being dismissed as “Non-Essential.”
As it turns out, we’re all essential. That’s why, when disaster strikes, we reach out to each other. My husband may not be essential at the office, but he’s essential to our neighbors as he helps them dig out of the tons of mud and debris that cover their yards. The State of Colorado has stepped in to pay the National Guard to keep on helping us with flood relief because they are essential to us, and the communities they are helping are essential too.
No matter what you do, you are part of the web that makes our community whole. If you’re not there to do what you do, I may not miss you immediately, but I will miss you. You are essential.
So here’s a little validation for everyone out there, with my best to you!