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Furlough 2013: The End

Yesterday was the first day I reported to work in 26 days. I found where I normally sit without the use of a GPS, but only barely. The week before the furloughs began I was in Arizona attending a Microsoft Server 2012 class. I drove home the following weekend, but the fifteen or so hours in the car did a number on my back and so I stayed home in bed on Monday — after all, they weren’t really going to furlough us the following day, were they? And if they did, surely the federal government would recognize my personal contributions to our agency’s IT program and would declare me essential personnel. I sat around waiting for a personal call from the President.

And then it happened. I mean the furlough part, not the presidential pardon I was hoping for. I found out via CNN that I had been furloughed. The guidance delivered to us was simple: don’t report to work or use any government equipment or resources until you are told to do so.

So, we didn’t. And the first couple of days were pretty fun. You can scroll back through my posts and see what all we did. I recorded some podcasts. We went to some garage sales. We went to the movies. We sought out places offering discounts to furloughed employees (there weren’t many in Oklahoma). Then we started hearing rumors that we might not receive back pay and we went on “lockdown mode” and quit spending money. Susan spent some money at Aldi’s; I spent some at the liquor store. I built a personal movie theater out of a cardboard box, stopped showering and changing clothes, and started wearing a Boba Fett helmet around the house. Things got weird there for a little bit. At one point we heard we were getting back pay. At one point we heard we were not getting back pay. At one point we heard we might only be receiving partial back pay. The only thing we knew for sure was that the bills hasn’t stopped coming in, but the money had.

We learned the furlough had ended the same way we discovered it had began, via CNN. Thursday morning was a cluster of confusion with very few people knowing for sure if they were supposed to report to work or not. I checked Facebook to see what my co-workers were doing. Based on an informal survey it appeared 1/3 of them were headed into the office, 1/3 of them were waiting for formal notification, and 1/3 of them play too much Candy Crush.

All’s well that ends well I suppose. We are getting back pay, so that’s good. I mean, it’s bad in the fact that we got paid for time we didn’t work, but as I joked on Twitter, “I dislike getting paid for time I didn’t work, but I dislike being late on my bills more than that.” I still don’t know if we will be getting a normal paycheck next week or if the furlough back pay will be delivered to us on the check after that. If that’s the case, we will have gone essentially a month with no income. (EDIT: Today we were informed that our back pay should arrive next week — hurrah!) With talks of this potentially happening again in January, we’ll be better prepared next time. Live and learn I guess. The thought of going multiple weeks without a paycheck was enough to push some of my co-workers into updating their resumes, and several of them were on the verge of sending them out. To be honest I am surprised that everybody I work with returned to work, and if this happens again in January, I do not expect a 100% return rate.

Whenever I mention the furlough to non-federal employees, they want to discuss the pros or cons of Obamacare, or tell me whose fault they thought this was. And while those are things that can and should be discussed, we weren’t thinking about them at all over the past few weeks. All we were worried about was making next month’s car and house payments. It seems we will be okay, but there was a small window in time in which we weren’t 100% sure. We still have a few weeks of letting monies settle back into their proper piles, but it looks like, at least this time, everything’s gonna be alright.

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2 comments to Furlough 2013: The End

  • I’m glad this didn’t last long enough to venture into “holy crap, where’s the next round of groceries coming from” territory. That’s something no one should have to go through, and something that should never be politicized.

    Being at home constantly takes a LOT of getting used to. I think I was just getting good at it when I had to stop.

  • Eric B.

    Yeah, I work for a school district , and sometimes worry about if the local school budget override will be passes by the voters, I also am worried that the federal government will have a effect on the local state government