January 5th, 2019
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I know several people who work for the federal government.

Putting aside the political debate about why the government is currently shutdown, this is a time of anxiety for many of these people and their families.

These people work hard and approach their jobs in a professional manner and now find themselves in an awful place.

Some of them who are considered to be “essential” must show up for work knowing that they will not get paid.  Others are furloughed and have no idea when they will go back to work or get paid.

800,000 federal workers and their families are being affected by the current government shutdown and that’s a lot of people.  Think about the ripple effect of that many people counting their pennies and starting to feel desperate about when they will see their next paycheck.

In the meantime, they are expected to carry on, to continue to raise their children and go about their lives as though it’s all going to work out.  Eventually a solution will be found but no one knows how long it is going to take for that to happen.

Given that most people live paycheck to paycheck, every little emergency can easily become a big crisis.

Have you ever been in a situation where money was tight and you had to make choices about which bills you could pay and then try to make sure you had money left over to buy some groceries?  Consider yourself lucky if you haven’t but I have and it is not a good feeling.  Not at all.

Financial instability keeps you up at night, staring at the ceiling, praying and wondering how you are going to keep a roof over your head and that of your family.

I’m writing today to raise awareness about people who may be living in your neighborhood or your community at large who may need help but they don’t want to ask for it.  People are reluctant to talk about their financial situations.  Maybe they have already blown through their emergency fund.  They may feel ashamed (although they shouldn’t) that they didn’t save enough (who does?) and they may feel scared because they don’t know how long this situation is going to last.

Let’s extend a hand and see what we can do to help.

Some businesses and bars in Washington,DC are already offering freebies and other deals to government workers feeling the economic pinch.  If you show your government ID, many places will offer you free coffee, free sandwiches or discounts towards meals.

Perhaps you could:

— invite your neighbors over for a meal

— throw a potluck party where everyone can share what’s going on

— take a meal to your neighbors

— watch their children

— walk their dogs

— offer listening time and give emotional support

I think everyone can relate to feeling vulnerable.

If your offers are turned down, at least people will know that you cared enough to think about them to reach out.

No matter how busy our lives, it’s important that we make room for others.

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2 Responses to “Paycheck to Paycheck”

  1. Debbie Smith

    Such a compassionate post, Mary Kate. After talking to Mary Pat, I was dismayed to learn that all the service workers are not being paid and will not receive back pay when this insanity is over. They are contract workers~~ no work, no pay. These janitors, bus drivers, trash collectors for federal grounds, etc are people who keep the government run smoothly physically and are least able to afford a shutdown. All 800,000 federal workers are in a bad, bad place. But somehow these service workers’ plight actually sickens me.

    • Mary Kate Cranston

      Hi Debbie — I never thought the government would stay shut for this long. It’s unprecedented and I continue to feel for all of the people who are struggling to deal with this horrendous situation. I have no idea what it is going to take to get the federal government to open up again. It’s a scary situation all around.


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