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2 Weeks In, Local Furloughed Workers Find Hobbies to Pass Time


October 14, 2013

Hundreds of thousands of government workers and contractors are still off the job during the shutdown, including many in Central Virginia.

Alexandra Angelich is one of them.

"This isn't ideal, but I'm trying to make the best of it," she said.

Angelich is a media specialist for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, a Charlottesville organization that receives funding from the National Science Foundation. Because of the shutdown, the money is dry.

Angelich said initially, funding was supposed to last for the group for 10 to 15 days, but after just four, employees were told to clear out.

"We got all of our food out of the refrigerator. We took all of the plants home," she said. "We have been told not to work at all."

Now, the NRAO offices are locked, and signs are posted on the doors notifying visitors of the government shutdown. All employees are left wondering when they're going to return to work.

"Deadlines aren't being met, and eventually we're going to get back to work and be thrown into this chaos," Angelich said.

Angelich and her colleagues are now forced to find other things to do while waiting for the shutdown to end. She's been spending more time with her dog, Apollo, and practicing music.

"I feel very productive playing music," said Angelich, who plays in a cover band. "One thing I've always sort of wanted is a miniature vacation so I can sit down and get better at playing bass and piano, but be careful what you wish for."

Now that she's been out of work for more than a week, she began the process of applying for unemployment benefits in Virginia.

She and her husband have been saving up for a house, but she said that's now on hold since they're dipping into their savings. Unlike the federal employees, there's no word yet if federally contracted workers will receive backpay.

"Frustrated? Of course," she said. "I've been deemed non-essential and been told to go home. It's a little frustrating."

In the meantime, Angelich said she's trying to make the best of the situation and is hoping to return to work soon.

"I have my dream job," she said. "Hopefully, I'll get it back."


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