The government shutdown affects many more than one might think. We asked one of our fellow employee owners, Caitlin Sattler, to share her experiences both personally and professionally:
I have to admit (and not proudly) that when I first heard we were entering a partial government shutdown, I was barely listening. I thought to myself that this isn’t the first or last time we have entered a shutdown and it probably won’t last long enough for me to notice. My husband, who is currently an active-duty member of the U.S. Coast Guard, also didn’t seem too concerned. As a military spouse, I use this as a temperature gauge in these situations.
One of my main responsibilities here at the brewery is to register all products with the individual agencies in each state we distribute. This can’t be done without federal approval from the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), an agency that has completely ceased during the shutdown. This is bigger than my not being able to fully carry out my job responsibilities. These seemingly administrative tasks have a ripple effect throughout not only the hundreds of employee-owners here at this Company, but also our business relationships with external companies that help us get our beer into the hands of our consumers.
Deemed essential, my husband, Sean, must report to work to honor the commitment he made to protect this country, without a paycheck. In addition to his salary, that paycheck brings us our BAH, or our Basic Allowance for Housing. Being stationed in a city (for us, the beautiful city of Boston) calculates a higher BAH because it is typically more expensive to live here, or any major city. If it weren’t for the military, we would not be able to afford to live here. Quite frankly, we can’t afford to live here on a single income.
Returning home exactly a week later revealed the harsh reality for the both of us, and my lackadaisical-borderline-naïve attitude changed very quickly. This wasn’t just going to affect our home life, it was going to affect us both professionally as well.
It’s not easy to put my individual experience into words. Not because I’m not in tune with how I feel, or how life has been impacted both personally and professionally, but because I am not the only one being affected by this. Everyone is being affected by this in one way or another. The last thing I’d ever want to do is solicit sympathy, or, more importantly, minimize anyone’s experience during this time regardless of the severity. That severity is unique to everyones individual experience.
As of last Friday, a temporary reprieve was set in motion and the government will reopen through February 15. I’m hopeful that my husband will be paid at some point during the re-opening. As for the recovery of the federal agencies that have remained shut down for the past five weeks, I’m a bit wary. We are not the only company that relies on the TTB, and although applications were not being reviewed during the shutdown, they were still being submitted. I can’t begin to imagine how many product applications with which the TTB was inundated, and there is no telling if they will dig out before another impending shutdown.
I write this with the intent to encourage you to take a more investigative look as to who the shutdown affects and and how. I didn’t even realize how I would be affected until it was already happening to me. If I can take anything away from my experience during this shutdown, it’s that I am not alone in my frustrations. It will never cease to amaze me that even during the most trying times, in spite of those frustrations, people come together and offer support to one another. Whether it’s a donation, a “thank you for your service,” or any gesture - the tiniest acknowledgement makes all the difference.