Beating the Shutdown Blues with Beer, Naps and Porn

How furloughed government workers are making the best of partisan gridlock

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The government shutdown is serious business and its impact will only get worse each day it continues, as work at federal agencies piles up, key services stay shuttered, the drag on the economy continues and the municipal coffers of the District of Columbia eventually run dry (garbage collection, anyone?). But Americans are a resilient bunch. In Washington, DC, where 38 percent of the population works in government in some capacity according to Gallup, at least a few of the 800,000 or so furloughed federal employees are making the best of day one of the shutdown.

“Shutdown specials” abound in DC, as businesses look to lure in federal workers with the day off. Pork Barrel BBQ tweeted out an offer of free sandwiches to furloughed employees, adding that the deal, “EXCLUDES CONGRESSMEN.” The restaurant Soupergirl took to Facebook to announce that federal workers get a discount, with the exception of members of congress, who get charged double. For those with prurient interests—and judge not lest ye be judged—the porn website Gamelink has offered a discounted rate for the duration of the shutdown.

At the Irish Whiskey Public House on 19th Street in northwest Washington, just blocks away from the White House, a group of furloughed federal employees gathered for drinks Tuesday afternoon. Over a game of cards and a round of beer, they griped about their unexpected time off.

“We’d much rather be working,” said one furloughed worker who asked not to be identified.

At the Black Rooster Pub, owner Jody Taylor said the day had been busy, though he doesn’t expect the crowds to last if the shutdown continues.

“It got a little crazy today because people had to go into work. Tomorrow, we’ll see what really happens,” said Taylor, whose pub survived the 21-day shutdown of 1995. “Back then we didn’t have the same amount of competition.”

Throughout the day, furloughed workers popped in and out of the pub, some just grabbing a drink and complaining to the bartender. Others, like a group of workers that sat near the door, took comfort in their common plight. They were cheerful, despite the circumstances, though one who asked to remain anonymous said she felt as if waiting minute to minute to know whether she could go to work was like a “kid waiting to hear about a snow day,” but in reverse.

“Congress is acting like we’re all dispensable, but in my opinion we represent some of the best the country has to offer,” she said.

Some furloughed workers with children took a rare opportunity to stay home while the kids are at school. When TIME called up furloughed employee Leslie Swift, we asked if we’d woken her up from a nap. “You did, you bastard,” she said, not uncharitably (we regret the error). The mother of twin toddler boys was unambiguous about what she intended to do with her unplanned, unwanted holiday.

“Nothing. I have two kids. I never get to nap,” she said.

Molly McCracken of DC’s Willow Creek Yoga said people have taken up the studio on its offer of a discounted walk-in rate for yoga classes. “People are hopeful this won’t go on for too long and they’re hopeful they’ll get paid in the end,” she said. “One comment we have had a lot is, ‘If only Congress were in here doing yoga, things would be different.”

5 comments
anon76
anon76

Jose Andres is offering free sandwiches at jaleo- I'll be checking that one out.  And don't tell the congresscritters, but I snuck some work home.  Wheee!

MrObvious
MrObvious

So public workers are no different from the rest of us.

notsacredh
notsacredh

"Beating the Shutdown Blues with Beer, Naps and Porn"

Beating and porn in the same caption. tsk, tsk.

notsacredh
notsacredh

I escaped the furloughs. How am I looking at the shutdown and what am I going to do? I'm going in to work as usual but with the knowledge that there won't be a check on payday. Since I don't know when it will end, I'll cut way back on spending so the local restaraunts won't be getting my business. I won't be taking my wife out shopping sonce we don't know when I will get another check. We won't be going to see any movies for the same reason. We won't be buying many groceries and will be eating things from the freezer. We do a great deal of our Christmas shopping early so we won't be doing any next week when I'm on my long weekend. A shutdown doesn't just hurt furloughed government employess. It hurts all of the local businesses that get our money too.