City Desk

The Shutdown Diaries: It’s Almost Over (Probably)

ShutdownDIariesI am a nonessential federal employee. This is my shutdown.

It looks like the furlough is almost over. This afternoon, my Twitter feed is as frenzied as it was in the day leading up to the shutdown; journalists and news outlets all reported how the Senate introduced a deal to fund the government and extend the debt ceiling. As of this writing—3:30pm, to be precise—the House plans to vote on the deal at 11 p.m., which means the president could conceivably sign the continuing resolution by midnight. Within a matter of hours, the government could reopen. The deal includes back pay for federal workers.

I recently got the OPM app for iPhone; it sends a push alert whenever there's a change in OPM's status. If the president signs the CR at 11:59 p.m., does that mean my phone will buzz, confirming the government's "open" status at midnight? The Washington Post's shutdown liveblog reports that federal workers will be expected to return to work tomorrow if the CR becomes law tonight or early tomorrow, but I won't be 100 percent sure until I check OPM and the department where I work.

I have mixed feelings about the shutdown ending. It took long enough, but I finally adjusted to my furlough routine. I started waking up later in the morning, and I liked the mix of free time and trying to impose my own structure. I wrote in earlier entries that it'll be a relief to return to work, but now I'm two weeks behind on a big project that was originally poised to roll out in December. Does this mean I'll be scrambling to catch up to my office's project plan? Will we postpone our big deadline? It's unclear, but I certainly expect several meetings on the day I return, and some of them could be frenzied. The first day back will be an adjustment just like my first furlough day, but I expect I'll be making my deliverables on time, no matter what the timeline.

This is (probably) my last shutdown diary entry. I want to thank the editors of Washington City Paper for giving me an outlet, and something to do with my furlough. I also want to thank everyone for their feedback including friends, family, and the comment trolls. If this diary has taught me anything, it's that I'm the sort of person who craves a routine. This means it's unlikely I'll drop everything and go backpacking through Europe for a year, but I already knew that. Still, I'm at my most content when I have deadlines to meet, and free food/drink still has its novelty (that doesn't last long).

It is important to remember that the proposed continuing resolution only funds the government through Jan. 15, 2014. That means there could be another political stand-off in a few months, and even another shutdown. If that happens, don't expect another diary. Instead, I just might drop everything and go backpacking, after all, even if it's only until the government reopens again.

Thanks for reading. Back to work!

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