Friday, October 18, 2013
The Fine Art of Futzing
You would not believe how fast DC cranked back into gear. Even before the deal was signed into law, I saw people in suits streaming down East Capitol, headed to work, it appeared.
I have no doubt that the unexpected staycation was alarming to some federal workers, those whose lives are shaped around their work. But there were also a lot of people for whom the experience was a revelation. They had time, actual time, in the city. When these people take vacation, they travel. They get the hell out of DC. They never plan for days off, figuring they can jam every activity outside of work into the weekends. This is a city of seriously hard-working people.
But it was actually against the law for them to work during the shutdown. Instead, they caught up with household projects, gardened, took a run in the middle of the day when usually they would be bent over a computer screen in a hermetically sealed cubicle or office. They took leisurely walks with their dogs, picked up their kids from school, came for massage.
They relaxed. They goofed, chilled, chillaxed. (I love that "word.") They practiced the fine art of futzing. The time off was a gift to those who were comfortable enough to go with it - it surely was - and an eye opener, no doubt.
These are the days of our lives. That phrase has been running round and round my horn of plenty (my mind, I mean). These are the days of our lives. Every little thing we do or don't do is written into the saga that is the story of who we are and how we spend our time. A lifetime of crippling work, unless there is no other option, might not provide the most satisfying life story, some of these federal serfs are thinking.
Yesterday they were back at work, no doubt to rotting food in the break room fridge, and thousands of emails. While taking my walk through this sparkling fall day, I felt for my neighbors and clients who must now readjust to the dehumanizing and demoralizing environment of the office.
The architecture of the traditional office building is so wrong. It's efficient, but deadening to the body and spirit. At least this is my experience in office buildings. There are many lovely offices, too. Also many more people are working from home. Work environments are changing, thank god. But my sense of federal office space is that it's pretty grim, like something from out of the Cold War.
Alas, the precious time the furloughed workers had for two weeks has been whisked away again. It's back to the grind. I expect there will be a period of readjustment, but most citizens of the District are pretty tough and will put their noses to the grindstone with determination, even fervor.
I have nothing but admiration for the bad-ass, smart, hard working citizens of my city. And nothing but gratitude that even though I don't have money or security (whatever that means), I make my own schedule and do not work in a lifeless cubicle. Also I have time. It is so precious. Believe me.