During the first week of the government shutdown of 2013, ABC News reporters fanned out across Washington, D.C. -- the city most acutely affected by furloughs.
We spoke with people like Eliot Markman, an analyst at the Department of Agriculture who might have to take a second job during the shutdown just to pay his bills. Janelle Anderson, a biological scientist at the Department of Defense called the shutdown "frustrating" and "ridiculous." And then there's Freddi Karp, a furloughed employee at the National Institute on Aging whose message to Congress is simple: "Do your job, so I can do mine."
These are their stories:
Both he and his wife are federal employees: "We've gone from two incomes to none."
"We have some money saved up so we can last for a while," he said, "but not sure how long and, because we don't know how long this is going to go on, we don't really know how to budget or how to plan for the long-term if need be."
Like so many other furloughed government workers, Gever expressed frustration because, he said, "it's ultimately the job of Congress to make sure the government functions -- that's one of the most basic duties that they have."
"They're putting petty politics in front of doing their job."
"I think it's childish. I really think this whole battle is very childish, it reminds me of kids playing in the sandbox and one side says, 'My way or the highway or nobody gets to play,' and it's unfair. That's not what we elected our officials to do," said Nance, who works for the District of Columbia's Water and Sewer Authority.
Nance said she is also worried about not getting paid, noting that before the shutdown she "never really calculated how much I make in a day."
"I figured one day won't be so bad, maybe not even two days, but, watching the stalemate that's going on, I'm anticipating that this is something that's going to go on for a while, so I'm looking ahead, anticipating, how am I going to get my bills paid, what arrangements, if any, do I need to make?"
"It's kind of unnerving," Nance said.
"It's so much harder not to work," she said. She has her computer and her Blackberry sitting at home, turned off. "It's like a temptation all the time," she said, comparing it to a modern-day breakup with Facebook and e-mail. "There are 100 different ways I could be doing work, but I am just not allowed to."
"I keep wondering if there are things I can do at home that no one will notice."
With a job in communications, Karp thinks one message has gotten lost: Who federal employees are and what they do. "We have just gotten such a bad rap," she said, recalling a recent dinner party with friends. "I'm a federal employee." she had to remind them.
"It's not just people taking care of cute pandas or bureaucrats pushing paper," she said. "There are a lot of federal employees who do things for taxpayers that the taxpayers don't know about."
It's like grieving. "I've mourned some of my projects," she said. "I take my job really seriously, and I feel really sad that projects were left just hanging in mid-air."
Her message to Congress is simple: "Do your job, so I can do mine."
"I have a little bit of savings, but if there is no back pay, it will get definitely tight, definitely, definitely tight," Markman said. "I live nearly paycheck to paycheck so it is a big deal."
"It's kind of hard to watch Congress and see this is your one job, it's to pass a budget, or to pass a continuing resolution, and keep the government going, that's their number one job," Keller said. "It's hard because we can't do our job when they're not doing theirs."
She said she has "savings enough for a little while," but a prolonged shutdown would mean she can't do things like pay off her car.
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."
Anderson noted she is planning to use this time to work on a manuscript and "hopefully being productive" while "trying to stay positive."
"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."
"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."
However, as a member of the day care's board, Smith said he recognized the needs of the day care's staff and continues to pay for their services.
"As a board, we feel that we have to maintain those because our employees -- the teachers and the staff of the daycare -- they didn't have any say in this," he said. "They didn't have a choice. We have to factor in their income needs to their families."
--Joan E. Greve