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A Furlough Diary Entry by Hawkeye Pete Egan B.
 

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  • I tend to dive into things, headfirst, with little regard for what will happen to me when I do. That's just the way that I am, and how I live my life. At times I have tried to temper that, and have learned how to "look before I leap", which I usually do, now. But once I've looked - I'm still leaping. Don't ask me to wade into the shallow end first, and gradually get the feel of the water temperature before I, oh so slowly, acclimate to it and eventually swim into the waves and the deep end. I will fall asleep out of boredom before I get there!

    Some would say this is living your life foolishly, foolheartedly, and that you create more chaos this way. That's great. I'm happy that they have all of that wisdom and are able to live in a more orderly manner following a sensible creed. I really am. If that's what works for them, what floats their boat and makes them happy and fulfilled, then that is absolutely jammin'. I say, go for it! For me, there is something about the diving in that appeals to me - living spontaneously, being willing, at any given time, to completely change-up and go in a different direction. I've learned not to stay locked into one way, if it doesn't feel right. If another way, a better way, presents itself to me, I'll take it, in a heartbeat.

    Overall, this approach to life has served me well. At times, it has caused me to learn some hard lessons - but, I feel like I give myself the opportunity to learn them quickly, and then move on. I don't dwell on them for too long. There's too much of life to be lived - today!

    What I don't like is when I feel like I've been pushed into the deep water before I was ready to go. That's much different than diving in. That's a feeling of suddenly being surrounded by strange water, in depths unknown, not being sure which is the way out, which way is the shore and which way will just take me deeper into the unknown - are their sharks in this water and if so, where?

    That's the way furlough felt to me, when I first realized that it was going to be weeks instead of days. It wasn't a money thing, an "Oh, my God, how am I going to pay my bills if I'm not getting paid?" type of panic, although there has been some scrambling, to be sure. Rather, it was a matter of dealing with the realization that my life has suddenly been completely changed, for reasons too far beyond anything resembling "reason" to be believed, and I found myself completely consumed by disbelief, anger bordering on outrage, and a sense of helplessness about it all. After three and a half days of that, I, fortunately, found a way out of that dark place I felt suddenly lost in.

    Some would say I should have stayed in those troubling waters, embraced my outrage, spewing my hatred at those who'd created this sudden new chaos in my life, in all of our lives, use my writing talents to scrawl screeds of venom and add to the muck and the mire that was all around. But, I would have quickly drowned in all of that. I know me. I could easily go there, but that is not how I live my life at this stage. I don't have time to hate. I don't have the stomach for venom. I need, and choose, to be a part of something positive, something uplifting, something life-affirming. Fortunately, someone threw me a life raft, in the midst of those roiling waters, and I grabbed onto it, and haven't let go.

    I was given an opportunity to be of service, to do something that has nothing to do with how I currently live my life, but which leaves me feeling, at the end of each day, like I've been a part of something bigger than me, that I've given of myself with no expectation of anything in return, but known that what I got in return was priceless, and was saving me, rescuing me from all of that turmoil I found myself in the middle of, that first week of this nonsense.

    When that opportunity presented itself to me, I dove right in, like I do. I'm so glad that I did. The water's great! I actually got to a point where, I kind of hoped that the furlough would last an additional couple of weeks, so I would be able to run Ralph's route for him, when he went in for surgery. I even contemplated, if the furlough ended and we got to go back to work next week, taking a week or two of annual leave, or at least take the mornings off for those two weeks, to be able to continue to do this service. However, I found out yesterday that, due to the government shutdown, Ralph's insurance is not approving him for the surgery that he needs, and he is going to have to wait for it. Bastards!

    That's a real bummer, for Ralph. It really does suck. I did learn, though, that a number of the stores that we pick donations up from on Ralph's runs, wind up throwing stuff away on Sundays, because we don't do a Sunday pickup. They haven't been able to get any Sunday drivers. I thought about that for about a New York second, then told Ralph, "Hell, I could do that!" (Splash) "What time would the pickups have to be made?" He said they'd need stuff picked up before 11, so the run would probably be an 8:30 to 10:30-11:00 type of thing. I could take that route on, furlough or no furlough, and I have offered to do it. It just felt right, and I really didn't have to think about it too long or hard. I was there. They are going to check with the stores, and will need to get folks to be my back-up, for those Sundays that I am out of town. Once we commit to the Sunday pick-ups, we'll have to have someone doing them every Sunday, and I do travel a bit on weekends.

    This will be at least one positive I can take away from this whole furlough business, once it is finally over. One of many, really. I just feel really fortunate that I found a way out of my own "mental furlough", and a way to be part of something better. It's actually been a good ride. Granted, it sucks what it's doing to the country, to so many other things, to the people who can't make their bills and for the services that are not getting done because of it - but, that's a whole other story, that I am trusting others to write. This is my story. Thanks for listening.
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