DCist’s story stars out with a brief description of what’s going on at Sixth & I in DC:
The sound of ping pong balls echo as a group of furloughed government employees gather around a TV, watching West Wing reruns and snacking on John Boehner’s head.
Not Boehner’s literal head, of course, but clementines from a basket labeled “John Boehner,” because they are round and orange, like the Speaker of the House’s head. The furloughed federal workers are gathered at Sixth & I in Chinatown, where the historic synagogue and community center has organized “Shutdown Central,” a sort of “adult daycare” for “nonessential” furloughed government employees to come hang out and pass the time until the government shutdown is over and they can return to work.
They also talked to an employee named Daniel:
“I’m trying to keep a positive attitude about it, just because that’s the kind of person I am,” says Daniel, a government employee who works with documents management for one of the main departments within the government (Daniel did not want to disclose his last name or full job title for work reasons). “But to be honest, I’m losing about $250 a day when I’m not working. That’s basically a car payment. When I think about it that way, there’s so much cooler stuff that I could be doing. That’s a lot of money that I’m losing out on,” Daniel says.
“It’s really frustrating not knowing what’s happening, or when I’m going to get paid again,” Daniel also says. “It’s also frustrating because once I get back to work, if I ever do, there’s going to be so much paperwork, so much stuff to do.”
What’s one of the “main departments” in the government? He doesn’t have the backbone to give his name or even where he works yet still tries to namedrop that he works somewhere important?
For the record, his $250 a day multiplies out to $65,000 a year although it’s unclear if he meant gross or net.
Another person there actually had the stones to give his name and where he worked:
“It’s very frustrating, it’s annoying,” says John Menaster, a Senior Analyst for the Government Accountability Office, “But at some point you just gotta shrug your shoulders and say ‘I can’t control any of this.’ It’s sort of like complaining about the weather at this point.” Though despite the frustration, Menaster—like most of those seeking refuge at Sixth & I’s “Shutdown Central”—is grateful for what the Synagogue is doing to help make things a little easier. “You just gotta do what you can and hold out. That’s why I think an event like this is so great, where you can just come and commiserate with friends and hang out and relax with other people that were furloughed instead of hanging out by yourself at home.”
And what else were these people doing besides whine about Congress all day?
While the dozen or so furloughed feds that were socializing and taking in the synagogue’s activities—which includes ping pong, West Wing reruns, board games, GOP-themed snacks, and even a “panda cam”—to help blow off steam, most were still pretty upset with Congress.
I’m assuming these must be people with no family responsibilities or no other responsibilities other than their government job if they can just go hang out and play ping pong, watch West Wing, and eat clementines.
There are people having real personal fallout from the shutdown, but it doesn’t appear too many of the people hanging out at this “adult daycare” are suffering.
Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.
Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.