It’s a double shutdown day here in DC. The government’s in lockdown and the city’s under a foot of snow, with most things (including work) getting called off today.
Seeing a shutdown from the inside is a crazy thing. They look really different than when viewed from West Coast private industry. For starters, it is suuuuuper fucking complicated. It’s not just what departments are shut, and which aren’t – it’s which sub-departments are funded separately, and for how long. It’s which personnel are exempt and which are considered essential, and what exactly does essential mean. It’s even if your group is funded, if the group above you isn’t, is there going to be anyone around to approve and sign those paychecks.
The news has done a decent job covering the breadth of the federal employees out of work or working-without-pay, but one of the things that I hadn’t realized was how deeply it affects non-government people in DC. The baristas at my usual coffee place were saying how dead it’s been the last few weeks, and a lyft driver told me they have to work twice the hours to get their usual amount of rides. This city is to government what LA is to entertainment or the Bay Area is to technology. Imagine if every tech company in SF just shut down for a few weeks – how much else would change? The government IS the primary industry in this town, and that industry has just… stopped. It’s pretty bizarre.
Obviously, I have not had as much success getting myself to write here as I intended. Turns out ripping yourself away from all your friends and moving across the country to start a new job in a new industry without knowing anyone in town or having anything remotely fucking familiar to support yourself with is hard.
With that said, it’s been a wild and incredible ride so far, and I do not regret it in the slightest.