Faces of the Shutdown: Fear, Frustration and Anger

PHOTO: Robert Hitchcock, a furloughed employee, works for the DOE.
Courtesy Robert Hitchcock
Robert Hitchcock, a furloughed employee, works for the DOE.

Robert Hitchcock
Data Analyst and Program Specialist
Department of Education

In addition to working full time for the Department of Education, Robert Hitchcock is a freelance photographer. Shooting with a Canon 5D, his website showcases black and white portraits alongside bright wedding scenes. "It's just sort of been a hobby that paid for itself," Hitchcock said.

Until this week.

Since being furloughed, Hitchcock has been looking for as many photography gigs as possible. He hopes to make up even a little of the gap in his cash flow.

"It's going to be very, very difficult, very, very tight these next few weeks," he said. "I've been thinking of selling my car to get by." The car insurance premiums for his 2010 Mazda is high, and so is his rent in Washington's Chinatown neighborhood.

"It's not a forced vacation," said Hitchcock, 38. "It's a temporary layoff."

He joined his coworkers for lunch at one of the many D.C. restaurants offering specials for federal employees this week. Still, he said, "It's hard to think about fun things to do when you're stressed about how long it is going to take to get your job back."

Hitchcock works for the Rural Achievement Program, which gives federal grants to thousands of poor and rural school districts across the country. The program was designed so these districts could be helped directly based on eligibility, without asking them to compete with larger, richer districts. Hitchcock said their grants are small but meaningful. "I think the job I do is important."

What will he do tomorrow? "I guess keep freshening up my resume."

--MaryAlice Parks

PHOTO: Furlough Workers
ABC News
Janelle Anderson

Janelle Anderson
Biological Scientist
Department of Defense

Janelle Anderson, a biological scientists at the Defense Department, called the shutdown "frustrating" and "ridiculous."

"I do my job, they should do their jobs, and they aren't," Anderson said. "I don't understand why it always has to come down to the wire as far as passing a continuing resolution or a budget, and that seems to happen regularly, and they have all this time and they don't use it and now we have a shutdown."

Like other furloughed workers, Anderson said she is worried because she has "bills to pay," but she is also worried the shutdown could be "damaging to the economy as a whole."

Anderson noted she is planning to use this time to work on a manuscript and "hopefully being productive" while "trying to stay positive."

--Shushannah Walshe

PHOTO: Furlough Workers
ABC News
Dan Rozenson

Dan Rozenson
Web Assistant
(Agency Withheld)

Dan Rozenson said he is "nervous, but in control" because he believes the shutdown will "be resolved" soon enough.

As for what he's going to do with his unexpected free time, he acknowledged it's "hard to plan ahead because we don't know how long it's going to last."

"I think of it as an unpaid vacation -- of indefinite length," he said.

--Shushannah Walshe

PHOTO: Furlough Workers
ABC News
Anna Schneider

Anna Schneider
Paralegal Specialist
Department of Justice

The shutdown has Anna Schneider, 25, riled up.

"Obviously, I believe the work I am doing is important, or I wouldn't be doing it," she said.

As a paralegal in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, she helps attorneys with discrimination cases. "A lot of my work involves making sure people with disabilities aren't segregated. They're not institutionalized. They're not kept away from the community," she said.

But like almost all of her coworkers, she was sent home, leaving open cases in limbo. "I can't do anything to help people who are struggling, who are being discriminated against. For what, you know?"

Schneider started her job three years ago after graduating from college. Now, she's worried about paying her bills.

"In some ways it makes me really mad at myself for not being better at saving," she said. "But, you know, this my first job out of college. I've been working there for three years. It's a federal government job. I am not paid extravagantly."

Still, Schneider considers herself one of the lucky ones, because she can "lean on people" to help with rent and her $170-a-month student loan payments.

"If I need to get money together for rent I will be able to do it. It won't be easy," she said. "It's just not true for everyone I work with."

On the second day of her temporary layoff she went on a bike ride and joked about applying for jobs with "a more reasonable employer." But more than anything, she just frustrated: "I just don't know why I'm being punished."

--MaryAlice Parks

PHOTO: Furlough Workers
ABC News
Michael Sellner

Michael Sellner
Statistician
U.S. Census Bureau

"Right now," Michael Sellner said, "I'm not angry. But, he added, "I think I might be by next week."

He said as a federal employee he knows "this can happen," but called it a "waste of money for taxpayers."

--Shushannah Walshe

PHOTO: Furlough Workers
ABC News
Ethan Maron

Ethan Maron
Attorney
Social Security Administration

Ethan Maron called the shutdown "absurd," noting that he and other federal workers are "here to serve the public interest."

"And there's no good served at all by sending us home," Maron said. "I also note that there's a very real possibility we won't be paid for this furlough time, which is absolutely brutal for a lot of civil servants."

"Honestly, I'm going to be okay," he continued. "I live on my own, I have no dependents, but there are a lot of civil servants who aren't that fortunate and if this goes on and they lose a week's pay, two week's pay, what have you, that's going to be really difficult to deal with and it's a hardship imposed not for want of resources, not from any necessity, but from pure legislative obstinance. It's nuts."

Maron added if this "drags on for too long, I'm going to be hurting."

"Some people are going to be hurting sooner, others are going to be hurting a bit after the point at which I will be, but yes, of course I'm worried."

--Shushannah Walshe

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