The Face of the Government Shut Down
An Interview with a Furloughed Employee
By M. Alberto Rivera
For many of us, when we think of the Government shutdown of NASA, we picture well-heeled engineers who may use the time to catch up on projects around the house. Or maybe it’s just another news item which has no direct bearing on us. But for many people involved in support services at the Kennedy Space Center, the effect of loss of income has been swift and jarring.
This is a frank and honest conversation about the immediate impact of the Federal Government’s furloughs and the people affected. Malice, (not her real name), is an artist and has worked at the Space Center for the past several years. This is her story.
M. Alberto Rivera: So you work in the Hospitality side of the Space Center?
Malice: I work through Division of Blind Services, which is funded by through the Board of Education. Which is smack dab in the middle of operational support at the Kennedy Space Center. Most everyone there gets spoiled fat checks, and then there’s me and my blind father in law. We run a snack bar and both barely pull in minimum wage. And now NASA has brought in commercial businesses, like Subway, Starbucks, Sonny’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, to compete with our non-competition clause, and running us blind people out of the Space Center.
MAR: How long have you been working out there?
Malice: I’ve been out there three and a half years. And a woman who was out there nine years, sacrificed her job last holiday season, so I wouldn’t get laid off.
MAR: We’re going on one week of government furloughs. How is this directly affecting you?
Malice: I am absolutely screwed. I’m dealing with an eviction notice because I haven’t been able to pay the remainder of my rent for September. No clue how to pay rent for October. No clue how I’m going to provide for my child. I can’t even get welfare assistance right now.
Malice: They are all backed up right now. My case is still pending and will be for weeks.
MAR: What about charities?
Malice: I’ve gone to every single charity, including churches, and the only one that is able to help is North Brevard Charities, and they don’t help with back rent. They can’t see me until the 15th.
MAR: The odds of getting another job in the meantime until this blows over are . . .?
Malice: Laughable. There are no Jobs. I’ve looked and looked, and by the time I do find something, hopefully we’ll be re-opening. There’s no extended family to help in any significant way. They all have their own health issues.
MAR: With each side dug in, claiming they won’t budge. What would you say to the Democrats and the Republicans if you could?
Malice: I can’t feed my child with bureaucratic bullsh*t. Throughout the community I you beg for help and you get nothing but closed doors. I’ve had to start selling my artwork out of necessity. This gallery, Stonefire, I asked for help, they said “get more work done.” My art kept me from being out on the street last week. I was able to sell enough of my artwork to help somewhat.
The only ones who care about the poor are the poor. No one else cares about the hungry except for people who’ve been hungry. Unless our government is able to pull their heads out of their asses, we are all royally screwed.
To see Malice N. Wonderland’s artwork please visit: https://www.facebook.com/malicen.w1