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Check is in the Mail

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“Pop,” and it was gone. The unannounced separation of the electrical current pulsing through the high wires behind my property, and those heading to the breaker box in the basement of my house, was a stark harbinger that I had messed up. Royally messed up.

The electrical utility — or more likely its computer — had discerned that I was a deadbeat. I had not paid my electricity bill.

In a single instance, an otherwise idyllic morning was condemned to the skookum house of dark, tedious days.

I was certain that the check was in the mail, as I told the customer service representative on my iPhone as the last vestiges of power escaped its battery. And it was! It was right there with the three other envelopes that I had stamped and licked shut that very same day.

However, being in the mail was not the same as being “in” the mail, and the distinction was not subtle enough to ensure the continuity of electrical service. For you see, all of that day’s mail — electricity payment included — was entrusted to the depths of my briefcase, not with the postal delivery service as intended.

Six hours and a hefty “reconnect” charge later, and the electricity was restored to my house.

The experience was an embarrassing, frustrating, and expensive reminder that very little good comes of a forced shutdown.

The federal government could learn something from my experience. As most furloughed workers miss their first paycheck, Friday, the calls for an end to the record-setting government shutdown intensify.

Yet, no one willing to blink during the impasse. It has now has reached 22 days, eclipsing the Republican led shutdown during the Clinton ad seems ministration. The current dispute emerged when funding to build a border wall with Mexico failed to materialize. The unfulfilled campaign promise of President Trump now further demonstrates the public’s belief that Congress is simply dysfunctional.

Although there is plenty of blame to go around, there are winners and losers. Historically, the brunt of public opinion falls against the party who forces — or is perceived to force — the furlough of workers. And although legislation is usually passed that guarantees workers their back pay, we all can relate to the 71 percent of all US workers, who struggle to make ends meet, living paycheck to paycheck.

Who hasn’t left their electricity payment in a briefcase?

Politically, the public perceives that those forcing out workers are villains. That perception usually translates to the polls the following election cycle. Presidents Clinton and Obama were reelected easily following lengthy shutdowns.

Now that the Democrats control the House of Representatives, neither side expects much movement on the issue. The stalemate continues, and more federal employees will likely be shelved. Hardships will mount for these people, who ironically have the least to gain no matter which side wins.

There is really only one lesson in all this: Very little is gained during a shutdown … beyond the shock value.