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Robin Ferrier works in the Office of Communications at the NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. She is also the Vice Chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival and a published fiction author. Prior to working at NIH, she spent 6 years working for Johns Hopkins University. She also worked... Read more

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Road-closed-sign[1]For me, one of the most disheartening aspects of the federal government shutdown has been people’s reactions. Not their reactions to the shutdown itself, but the lack of empathy for the workers who suddenly found themselves furloughed.
Today, as we’re nearing a close, one of my Facebook connections posted the following:

  • ZOOK- the dating site reports that their web’s traffic went up with the govt shutdown. More profile watching & new accounts out of DC. And, we’ll pay for federal employees hooking up.

And one of her connections responded:

  • Good work and comment.

The same person who posted the original comment on the dating site also said:

  • We all know most federal govt employees are not very productive.

On another Facebook friend’s page, a heated discussion ensued about the shutdown and who was at fault. The discussion then devolved into attacking federal government employees with statements like:

  • It would help too if [federal government employees] picked up a private-sector-worthy marketable skill or two to provide greater flexibility in the future…
  • As for skills, with the job security of government employment, it’s easy to make the leap that the private-sector attracts more forward thinking, risk-taking, creative people than government. Of course, there are solid people working for government, but most don’t automatically think government when thinking cutting edge, game-changing, hard-charging workers.

I understand angry reactions toward the Senators and Representatives and the President. Whatever political side you fall on, I understand being angry and blaming the other side. And I understand those who are angry with the entire Congress.

But I don’t understand how anyone can be so callous toward others who find themselves suddenly out of work. Would they be this callous to private sector employees laid off during difficult economic times? And to imply that somehow those who work for the federal government are less talented?

It makes me sad for the state of our country when this is the sentiment people feel the need to express during this time…


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Robin Ferrier

About Robin Ferrier

Robin Ferrier is the Vice Chair of the Gaithersburg Book Festival. She has had three short stories published in anthologies and literary journals and had a play performed in Source theater's 10 Minute Play Competition. She has an M.A. in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. from the University of Virginia.


One Response to “Disappointment…”

  1. Avatar
    On October 24, 2013 at 4:01 pm responded with... #

    I know exactly how you feel, Robin. I moved from NYC to Maryland because my husband and I were destroyed by 9/11. But my skills in healthcare writing for print and some of the first online outlets (especially for senior issues) landed me a position that let me create a whole new health communications department at Erickson Retirement Communities. So there I was developing newsletters, award-winning newspaper articles, video, the first web content, even coordinating with CMS…and then boom! 2009 threw hundreds out of work including yours truly (after everyone assured me I was “too valuable” to be let go. Uh-huh).

    Fortunately there’s so much government work here where they need tons of material in lay language I’ve actually been able to work as a subcontractor…usually NIH. (And then there’s other clients like magazines, white papers, et al.)

    Still, with my hubby in school, I know very well what it’s like when the projects stop…whether it’s a recession, a shutdown…the valleys get VERY frightening. Hope things are getting back in order for you. I’ll probably be away by the time you see this (I’m leaving on 10/29/13 for at least a week), but maybe we can chat once we’re both resettled. Meantime take care! Wendy

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