Mt. Vernon Register-News

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October 9, 2013

Spouses of federal workers find furlough, well, weird

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WASHINGTON — And when he's on Twitter, doing promotional stuff for his job, does she think he's slacking off? Does she realize this is part of his work? "She's at home, stressed about her future, and how am I helping? I'm making snarky comments online."

Re: the stress. On Tuesday afternoon, House Republican leaders began pushing for debt-limit negotiations. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said his party would be open to negotiations if the House passed measures to reopen the government. President Barack Obama called on Congress to vote and end the shutdown "right now."

After eight full days of shutdown, is an end in sight?

"I definitely have the ideal furlough husband at home," says Amy Lupold Bair, a social media marketer whose policy-analyst husband has been dominating household chores for the entirety of the shutdown. He is picking out outfits for their fourth-grade daughter, preparing snacks, assisting with homework — tasks that usually fall to Bair, because she works from home. He is assembling items for Goodwill. The boxes of uncertain contents stacked in the garage? He is unpacking them.

The boxes have been there how long?

"Since always!" Bair says. Since the day they bought their house three years ago and stuck them there.

He is bringing coffee and doughnuts to the office staff at their church, for a midday pick-me-up. He has begun to eye the leaf-laden gutters.

"We've joked that I've needed staffing for a very long time," Bair says, so it's been nice to have him at home.

However, she admits. However. "I can sense that he's starting to get restless."

Maybe it is time to get back to work.

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