Dale S. Brown

I was a project manager for the President’s Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities. I was working hard and suddenly, we were told we had to go home. All of us tried to close out our projects. I was warned by one of my superiors, “Don’t do any work at home. It’s illegal.” Luckily, I was coordinating a committee that involved non-governmental people. So, as fast as I could, I called people and arranged for the necessary delays, communication procedures, and authority delegation.

Well….here are some things that happened;

*My Mom told me that the people at Chincoteque where she lived were furious the refuge, a national park was closed. She said that they were the ones who complained about “getting the government off their back.” But Chincoteque depended on the tourism- and they somehow didn’t realize that the park rangers were government employees.

*A friend of mine couldn’t believe the Smithsonian was closed.

In short, a lot of people realized the importance of government.

So far as my personal situation was concerned, it was rough. I did work on a personal project that might not have gotten done if the government remained open. But we didn’t know whether we would be paid. And each day, we had to listen to the news to find out if we could go to work.

When we returned, it was very weird. It wasn’t like leaving for vacation where you have everything organized. My committees had basically decided to wait it out. We had to review our work and then get back to it.

Eventually we were paid, but that was the least of the problems. I wasn’t demoralized, but many people interpreted the event as one of many signals that civil servants were disrespected.