Now that the debt ceiling has been officially “dealt with” and almost three weeks of government shutdown have been, well, shutdown, federal workers in Washington, D.C., are once again swiping their metro cards. Tourists are snapping pictures in front of the White House, and Elijah Alfred "Nature Boy" Alexander, Jr. has taken up his signature post at the park across the street from the president's residence.
Elijah's not the only one contemplating the shift in the city's mood. Budget negotiations aside, not everyone at the Office of Management and Budget worked through the shutdown. Aron Greenberg, a Budget Methods Specialist, found himself at home, patching his chimney, cooking (“I worked on some oxtails and mushrooms that tasted really nice”), and tending to projects around the house. This morning, his office has buzzed with “war stories” from his colleagues who did not take a mandatory vacation.
Alexa Finelli did not miss any days of work at a nonprofit called Amideast, but says she noticed a “definite difference” in the mood of the city. Today, she’s “almost as relieved as her parents,” both furloughed federal workers in Colorado, “with three children who still depend on them.” Tonight, she says celebrations are in order.
Retired office manager Elijah Harris spends most of his days reading his newspaper on a park bench. While most of D.C. went quiet, with federal employees and tourists staying home, Harris says protestors on the White House lawn made this part of the city even louder than usual.
Binney and Bob Wells have been planning to bring their granddaughter, eleven year-old Binney Patton, on her first trip to Washington, for “months and months and months.” The three crossed their fingers as they watched the news, made backup plans, and packed their bags yesterday. To their surprise and “delight,” the government reopened its doors to tourists – that is, except the part Binney-the-younger had hoped to see most.
Seeing it from the outside? Not quite the same.
With her family and friends stuck at home, “worrying about their income and having nothing to do,” Emi Symenouh says she has had a hard time going to her own job at a children’s welfare nonprofit downtown. Today? Relief.