"I 've been working at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport for eight years. I was in the airport when I found out the government had been shut down. We've gone through this before, but not for this long. The longest was for about two weeks in 2013. We're on day 35. This is the first time we've missed a paycheck, and we'll miss our second paycheck on Saturday if this doesn't end.
I'm a single 35-year-old woman. I just became a homeowner. I closed on my house on December 21st, and the government shut down on the 22nd. It's been tough. Emotionally, I've been positive because I have a great relationship with God, but for some people around me—like the households with two federal workers and children and no income—there's been a lot of pain and conflict.
The public is thanking us and asking us if we're okay, but are we really okay? Moving from an apartment to a house 40 minutes away from work has been a lot for me. I've been working extra shifts at the airport to make sure I can make my downpayment, which is due on February 1. I mean, I can't even afford a refrigerator for my new home. The funds just stopped. I bought a 5-cubic freezer chest to store frozen food in, and I'm keeping some items in a storage tub sitting out on the patio because it's cold enough outside.
They say if we come in to work we will eventually get paid. I'm just waiting. I work my regular hours and I've been working overtime because I have goals to meet and things I want to do personally, like enjoying my new home. I also need to be able to pay my car payment, student loans, and cell phone bill. I want to have enough money in a savings account to give to my church and to not have to worry about unpredictable car troubles. I enjoy what I do. I like meeting people (in an average day, you meet about 1,500 people) and serving our nation. Of course, when you're committed, you're going to continue to come to work.
After 9/11, I decided to leave the hospital I was working at and pursue a degree in criminal justice. I loved the idea of being employed in public service to help protect the nation. Ironically, I thought this job would have a great amount of stability. Now, we come in each day and get briefings to keep us aware about what's going on, but otherwise we just have to sit and watch the news. Just wait.
It's unfair that I can't get the things I need because of the shutdown, but my motto is: We work by faith. Friends and family have been giving me gift cards for gas and helping me out with other necessities. It's upsetting, hurtful, and really discouraging that we don't have our money, but overall we're here; we're committed. We're doing our jobs daily. Some people have been giving us free meals and showing their appreciation with cards saying, "Thank you for doing your job." Others simply don't care. You have disrespectful passengers that just want to get to their flight. They tend to lash out and call us names. We don't deserve that.
I took an oath to protect this nation. I believe in what we do. I hope this will be resolved soon. I could be sad and depressed, but I choose to be positive."
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Rachel Epstein is a writer, editor, and content strategist based in New York City. Most recently, she was the Managing Editor at Coveteur, where she oversaw the site’s day-to-day editorial operations. Previously, she was an editor at Marie Claire, where she wrote and edited culture, politics, and lifestyle stories ranging from op-eds to profiles to ambitious packages. She also launched and managed the site’s virtual book club, #ReadWithMC. Offline, she’s likely watching a Heat game or finding a new coffee shop.
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