Friday, January 18, 2019

With the Bitter comes the Sweet~

It's been awhile since I've written anything. 2018 wasn't kind to any of us. My writing hiatus that started in 2016 just kept going and going. And now, finally having made it to 2019, I'm a furloughed government employee. Nothing I do for my day job is life altering, so I'm considered non-essential, sitting at home. It hasn't been too bad for me. I have savings and I'll get by, but I do worry about the new employees that just barely started their careers. I worry about the contract janitor, who's probably had to get a new job by now. I worry about my friends who were set to retire on Dec. 30. Their retirement is not getting processed. And I worry about insurance coverage continuing. I suppose we'll all muddle through somehow.

I had a slightly ominous feeling all through the holidays that things in my personal life were changing and would not be the same for much longer. Now I feel the same way about my professional life. This shutdown, the longest in history, changes things. If there's one thing I've learned in 25 years of federal service, you never know what's just around the corner.

One bright spot has been a private Facebook group set up by federal employees to share how they spent the furlough. I couldn't tell you how many agencies are represented, but I think it's a lot of the land management types, Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management. I've often said our agency is like a family: you don't get to pick who you spend your career life with and you have to figure out how to get along with them all. At the end of the day, we support each other. The Federal employees I know are some of the most amazing people you'll ever meet. 

The Facebook group is strangely like a family too. Many of us are spending our days cleaning out the dark recesses of our closets or completing those long overdue household tasks, like painting the doors or the bathroom. Others are taking on bigger projects like landscaping or home renovation. Some are working on their art, painting, stained glass, baking. We've experienced births and deaths over this furlough and had oh so valuable time to spend with loved ones. That's one unexpected blessing to come out of this: time. With the bitter always comes the sweet.

No one becomes a federal employee just for the money. The jobs can pay well, but there are thousands of entry-level support positions that don't pay that great. I think people stay in federal employment because they feel valued, like what they do matters. They provide a service to the American people, even when those people speak ill of them. It's called civil service for a reason. When an employee doesn't feel that calling, they usually don't stay. Most of the federal employees I know are loyal public servants and they love what they do. Peace~

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