Furloughed

I got furloughed today. 

I also got my flu shot.

One was more painful than the other.

When I sat down to get my shot, I asked the nurse if it was okay if I took a self-portrait as she did it. She laughed and said that was fine, and also let me know exactly what she was doing so I could time it just right.

That is my legit reaction. I’m a grown woman, and shots still make me squirm.

That sensation of the vaccine actually injecting and swirling into my muscle? So weird.

I was both gasping and laughing as she was like, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”

It was hilarious.

The other stuff? The furlough? Not hilarious.

But also not unexpected, and my division at my department did a good job preparing us and streamlining the process. We had four hours to work this morning, to tie up loose ends and put a good solid pause on our projects and accounts, to sign the necessary paperwork recognizing we will no longer be paid, removing food from the office fridge, turning out the lights, that sort of thing.

I shall eventually return to a neat and orderly work space.

Government workers sometimes get a bad rap.

To be fair, there’s always some basis of truth to stereotypes and some origin to broad generalizations about any particular group of people. There are reasons people distrust the government right now. I get it.

But just as I take pride in being a military veteran (also not always a popular distinction), I also take pride in being a government worker.

My father retired as a government worker. I work with extremely dedicated and intelligent individuals. Each have their own reasons for working where they do, doing what they do, but the vast majority of the folks I know try their best to improve the way business is done. And not to get too Pollyanna here, but the beautiful thing? Like the military, those who work in civil service come from all walks of life, with all kinds of backgrounds.

That said, civil service can also be frustrating, exhausting, and … did I say frustrating already?

Especially in times like this. Maybe in the past, government work — like the military — meant some job security, but the past few years have proven, that’s not always the case.

You gotta love this to stick with it.

And ultimately, I do love what I do.

Today’s survival tools: coffee and tunes. Actually, those are my tools every day. Not much of a difference there.

Before I left downtown and returned home from work today, I snapped a photo of Ashley (the intern now living with us, who I will write about later) and me in front of the Capitol building, and posted it along with a part of the Gettysbury Address delivered, of course, by President Lincoln.

It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. – President Lincoln

The role of government in American society has shaped and shifted over the generations, yet these words said 150 years ago to mark the burial of Civil War soldiers continue to inspire me to serve, to believe that one of the greatest things about America is the ability and freedom to be involved in a variety of ways in the support of this country and its people.

That’s not a delusional and idealistic sentiment. That’s just my truth.

The politics and decisions made by elected officials may sometimes be dirty and nonsensical, but the work of the government will never be done, and I’ll be happy to get back to it.