Sunday, September 29, 2013

Being "Essential" Isn't All It's Cracked Up To Be

I'm nonessential federal personnel (there are no art historical emergencies!), so for me the prospect of the government shutting down isn't an abstract notion. For me, each day the government is shut down will result in a chunk missing from my paycheck. This is a bummer, so gloat away, teabaggers, you got me.

Mostly, though, being nonessential at my workplace is a plus, even a privilege. It means that if a huge blizzard closes the museum on a working weekday, I get an "administrative leave" day; I stay home and get paid. It also means that I get paid to never ever go to work on a federal holiday.

So up until now, being nonessential has always, for over ten years*, been very good to me. And now, finally, the trade-off.

*My first year-and-one-half at the National Gallery was in the Gallery Shops, where I was "essential" on federal holidays other than Christmas and January 1, but "nonessential" if a blizzard closed the museum. Status can change suddenly: everybody on site but the guard force became quickly nonessential on 9-11 and sent home.

Fun fact: last Thursday was my 13th year anniversary at the NGA! 


Anonymous said...

I don't suppose they get any of their pay docked, do they? Of course, since our legislators are mostly millionaires I doubt they would miss it.

Comradde PhysioProffe said...

I have a bunch of scientist colleagues who work at NIH who are considered non-essential, and whose experiments will be all fucked uppe if they cannot go to work next week. In some cases, weeks or even months of already invested experimental time and effort will become completely wasted.

dinthebeast said...

...But, but, you are one of my favorite uses of our tax dollars... Couldn't they keep paying you and accidently forget to buy one of those extra F-35 engines or something? Also, is that an empty bottle of essence of alligator?

-Doug in Oakland

The Cat's Meow said...

I hope that all those "nonessential" federal workers who live in Virginia will spend their time away from work volunteering for a non-Republican campaign for, say, Governor or state delegate. Just a thought.

Joel Nowak said...

When I was younger I used to be obsessed with the phrase "Shut Down". To me it always conveyed some sort of stupid finality in which the one who "shuts down" does so not through any thought out rationality, but simply because they can. Don't think, don't talk, just shut 'em right on down. In the Reagan 80s you would see all kinds of shut downs going on. It was usually good stuff that was getting shut down. Around this time my friends and I adopted this phrase and looked for opportunities to use it. My feeling was that because represented something so moronic we loved it and had the added benefit of fitting right in with our faux backwoods lingo. The younger me would have been in heaven hearing the never-ending "shut down" mashups on the news today. (Shutdown Showdown, Shutdown Meltdown). There is still a part of me that still loves that word. But the older me also recognizes that this is my government that is conducting this foolishness and putting the future of my country at risk. And the older me also thinks about his sister over at NASA who is a single mother raising a daughter and has a mortgage. And finally, the older me thinks of an old friend who works at kinda big "art gallery" in D.C. This is one shut down I can do without. Let's hope it is short.

Peteykins said...


Obviously, Joel, I remember your obsession with "shutdown" very well. I can't tell you how many times I've said those words in your voice recently ("Shut 'er down!").

Joel Nowak said...