What The Short-Term Shutdown Bill Means For Thousands Of Federal Workers
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
The longest government shutdown in U.S. history has ended but only for three weeks. What does this mean for thousands of federal workers? Kristie Scarazzo is a botanist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura, Calif. We spoke with her after the government shut down back in December.
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KRISTIE SCARAZZO: I am very worried. I just moved to the area in September for this job, and I drained my savings account in the move. So it is a source of great anxiety.
SIMON: Kristie Scarazzo joins us now. Thanks very much for being back with us.
SCARAZZO: Thanks so much for having me.
SIMON: Will you be headed back into the office on Monday?
SCARAZZO: It's highly likely. I'm waiting for the final word, but it's looking like, yes, we can go back in on Monday. So my fingers are crossed.
SIMON: It sounds like you're happy.
SCARAZZO: Oh, I'm overjoyed. I'm so excited. I can't believe it.
SIMON: Aw. Well, help us understand what life has been like these past few weeks for you, some of what you've had to do to get by.
SCARAZZO: It's been extremely stressful, from anxiety to depression to panic, fear, anger. It's been a full palette of emotions. And I've paid my bills through the month of January. I applied for unemployment. I applied for many, many jobs, everything under the sun, from biotech lab work to retail to a fishing boat. I applied for at least 25 jobs.
SIMON: The effect was building up on you, I guess.
SCARAZZO: Right, and just scrambling, panicking. What am I going to do? How am I going to pay my rent February 1?
SIMON: Yeah, sounds like you enjoy your work.
SCARAZZO: Oh, I love it. I live for my job. You know, I'm so committed to my mission, and I feel like I was put on this Earth to do botany. And there's not very many botany jobs out there, let alone my dream job, which I have my dream job at the service.
SIMON: Well, it does raise the question, though, if - I mean, we are looking at perhaps another government shutdown in three weeks. Do you ever think maybe I better look for another employer, maybe even another line of work?
SCARAZZO: I certainly started to consider the options during this time period, but to be honest, once we reopen, it just makes me more committed to dig deeper and go back and do a really great job because part of the reason that I value my position so much is being a public servant.
SIMON: Will you be, nevertheless, though, having to devote one eye to events in the capital and hoping against hope there won't be another shutdown?
SCARAZZO: Absolutely. I mean, having had this experience, it really is a game changer, and I hope to be in a position to plan for something like this again. You know, one of the reasons that I took this job was in my own mind I felt like working for the federal government is one of the most secure things that one can do. However, with this recent experience, I need to make a savings account. I need to plan for this in the future and pursue, you know, side things, whether it be, like, herbal business or yoga teacher instruction, getting my substitute teaching credential. I mean, these are all ideas that I had while we were in limbo. So it'd be nice to have those things on the side if we come to this again.
SIMON: Kristie Scarazzo of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura, Calif., thank you so much for being with us.
SCARAZZO: And thank you.
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