Thursday, October 3, 2013

Furloughs, Shutdowns and Feds oh my!

I was once a Federal Employee. Right out of Law School, my first job was at the Department of the Interior in the Solicitor's office right off the Washington Mall. Had the stars aligned, I could still be there, and as a non--essential employee I would be furloughed right now.

I can feel for the employees because I was a temporary employee and every three months they had a review on whether to keep me for the next three months. As long as there was money, I got to stay in a shared office with an elderly lawyer about to retire. Eventually the money ran out and I had to go. If I had waited for the money to come back, I would probably still be working on a brief this very instant, probably sharing my office with a kid right out of law school.

I wrote memos about the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act. Every Friday over lunch, our whole division would play Trivial Pursuit. There was one brilliant guy who deal with the legal issues of the trust territories in the Pacific. He had never been to any of the Trust Territories in the Pacific, but had a photographic memory and could speak several Polynesian dialects. This was very helpful at Trivial Pursuit. His rule was when in doubt, the answer was Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii.

I think I manged to stay on for one more term because of that rule.

I can honestly say that in all the workplaces where I've been, I've never been in such a fun place to work. My co-workers were smart and dedicated. They were interesting and they were friendly. They came from all political stripes--some were liberal, some were conservative, but they all believed in public service.

Every other Friday I would get paid, and I would listen to the chatter of whether I would be able to stay for another few months.I would actually read the Wall Street Journal to check on Federal budget issues as if it somehow affected me. You know what, it did. I remember interviewing for a job at the Justice Department, they told me if I could hold on a little longer, I would get a job there.

I don't have a solution to the budget impasse, but I am thinking of those nice people whom I played trivial pursuit with. I wonder if they are still going to be playing trivial pursuit this Friday at a nearby Starbucks.

Hint...the answer is Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii.

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