With no end in sight to the U.S. government shutdown, federal employees—whether furloughed or working without pay—as well as their family members and friends took to Twitter to tell #shutdownstories. They’ve made it quite clear: this holiday season is anything but a joy. With the senate adjourning until December 31, it looks like federal worker pain will continue into the early days of 2019.
“I have family and friends that took back Christmas presents so they can afford rent and food once the paychecks stop. It’s hella expensive to live in the dc area. Everyone I know lives paycheck to paycheck. Missed pay will decimate them,” said Twitter user @SusanJustSusan.
But the shutdown blowback on gift giving and general Christmas fun were far from the most dire of Tweets. Many federal workers and their family members have reported problems paying for their rent or mortgage, and for medical care. Or their plans for getting by: “Trying to switch from part-time to full-time as a 17 year old student, just so the bills are paid on time as my mom works for free,” said Twitter user @SarcasticAdven1.
“My insurance premium is $600 per month & my sons Insulin & pump supplies are an additional $600 per quarter. Barely making it,” said Twitter user @nikkita_atikkin. “Now I’ll be going to work…..paid in the future.”
Though it’s still up in the air whether furloughed workers will eventually get backpay when the shutdown ends, contract workers will not. They’re also sharing their #shutdownstories. “I’m a contractor—can’t work, won’t be paid, not ever,” said @flowerqu_een.
“I’m a contracted employee for the federal government and the difference is that there is no chance of compensation for the shutdown days for me and others in my position,” said Twitter user @Newstent1.
Of course, for every worry posted to Twitter, there are those who have answers—and cruel retorts.
Twitter user @shumitto took to the platform to suggest federal employees need to better manage their money.
Many dealing with the shutdown were feeling the weight of comments like that. “whenever I talk about my air traffic control husband working without pay on Twitter, all I get is hateful remarks about how he WILL & won’t lose a dime,” said Twitter user @psychomamma.
Others, meanwhile, are Tweeting out in support of #shutdownstories authors, reminding the know-it-all Twitter masses that payment problems now can snowball into the future. “Remember that even when employees get paid later, it won’t cover the late fees, overdraft fees and shutoff/turn on fees that they incurred because of missing wages,” said Twitter user @atlemont.
And that snowball effect will also slam into businesses that depend on federal workers as customers. “My husband is a tattoo artist. 3 clients have canceled because they doubt they’ll have paychecks. That’s our paycheck for the week after Xmas,” said Twitter user @louie_service.
One positive: TSA workers, now working without pay, are finally getting a little love. For now.