There have been a number of news articles indicating that the DoD furloughs for fiscal year 2013 are here to stay. So for 600,000+ Department of Defense employees, it’s three furlough days down, and eight more to go.
The good news, at least for DoD employees around in my neck of the woods, is that just about all of the employees have the same furlough day: Friday. If there truly was no other option for making up the shortfall than by cutting paychecks, then this was the way to do it. Gross pay goes down 20% for 11 weeks, but so does hours worked. By law, no work is to be done on furlough days; volunteering is verboten.
Since most everyone at work is off on the same day, why not get together with colleagues who are also friends? Why not have Fun Furlough Fridays?
“Forget about life for a while?”
One of our friends from church came up from the idea of Fun Furlough Friday, which was a dish-to-pass get-together with games, chatting, etc. Part of the stated purpose was to ” … give us time to fellowship, and not think about all the money we are losing.” Which is probably good not to dwell on too much; the loss of take-home pay is over $3,000.
The first one of these went mostly as advertised, though we did break rank and talk about the furlough and things related to making money on side projects, and adhering to a furlough budget. It was a good mix of talking about furlough and avoiding talk about furlough.
In a way, I’m glad that people weren’t making talk of furlough completely off-limits. Had people gotten too strict about not talking about how we’re dealing with the furlough, my participation probably would have been limited. Not that I’d want to spend the entire time talking about furlough strategies — these are friends, after all! — but not talking about it at all is a bit like going to the bar the Piano Man was playing at: They were there “to forget about life for a while.”
I don’t think that avoiding the issue with people who are going through it is the correct answer. It seems a bit too much like trying to drink your problems away. “If we don’t think about the problem, it isn’t there.”
Avoiding the problem doesn’t help. Thinking it through does help.
Talking it through with others who are going through it too helps a lot.