Because we work in National Parks, Tom and I are affected by the government shutdown which started Saturday. I am hoping by the time this post comes up, we will be back at work. But I have been known to be unrealistically optimistic. I always think those who are running the government should be able to back off entrenched positions and compromise with each other. See what I mean about optimistic.
How is the government shutdown affecting us so far? So far it feels like a few extra days off. Unwelcome days off, because we had stuff we were planning to do. It is a lovely weekend and the temperatures are perfect for doing living history outside.
Instead, this morning we helped close the park. We emptied all the trash and recycling cans. Tom set up a monitoring camera because the last time the government shut down, we had a guy with a metal detector who came and dug over 100 holes at the park. The police arrested him but let him go because they didn’t realize it was a federal crime to dig at an archaeologically protected park. The park is “open” but all the facilities are closed. President Trump is hoping to reduce the heat on the Republicans by keeping parks “open” but without the personnel, parks can be dangerous places.
After we dropped off the trash, we picked up the spinning wheel and weasel so I could spinning if the government shutdown is longer than I hope. We watched a movie and did the laundry. I baked a banana cake. The RV volunteers do not have to leave the park, which is very good news. Instead we are taking turns walking around the grounds and keeping an eye on things. Today there were lots of visitors still enjoying the park. We are sorry they aren’t getting the full benefit of the park with the movie, ranger tours, and the living history demonstrations.
We can stay in place and we don’t get paid, so the shutdown won’t change our lifestyle much. But friends of ours who are rangers are going to have problems if the shutdown last longer than a week. President Trump hasn’t said anything about people getting back pay. Last time this happened, President Obama kept reassuring the government employees that they would be paid for their time. As stingy as President Trump is, I’m not sure he will be willing to do that.
Rangers don’t get paid much and many of them live paycheck to paycheck. If they miss getting one paycheck it could mean they have to choose between food and rent. Several of our ranger friends are looking for other jobs to tide them over. Some of them might even leave the park service if they find something that pays better. Right now the National Park Service is a difficult organization to work for – the hiring freeze that started a year ago is continuing.
How will we spend our days until the park opens back up? It depends on how long it lasts. Tom suggested we head to Disneyworld. That could be fun. But we are ready to work and would love to be interacting with guests and sharing our excitement about Fort Frederica. Hopefully we will be back at work soon.