How to Furlough- A Beginner’s Guide

Hello. I see you’ve found this furlough post. Perhaps you’re not on furlough but are curious about what it entails, in which case: get back to work. Or perhaps you’re on furlough yourself and have been wondering how others have handled the unpleasant situation. If so, we’d like to point out a disclaimer: this is intended to provide an example of what you can expect during a furlough; your individual furlough may vary.

Thank you.

Day One:

You’ll probably be required to report to work in the morning to complete an orderly shutdown. The purpose of an orderly shutdown is to set up out-of-office notices on your phone and email, secure sensitive information, and to ensure the last time you see you coworkers for awhile they will be sad and in casual wear. This will give you a feeling of solidarity and also of despair. At some point you’ll be given a furlough notice to sign, which is when the clock officially starts on your temporary unemployment. (note: you can contest a furlough, but don’t be that guy. No one likes that guy).

Walking out of the building, you’ll encounter many colleagues who will, out of habit, ask you how you’re doing. This is a trick question and there is no right answer. You are not great, but no one wants to hear that. Just smile and work your eyebrows into a “that’s life!” shape and repeat the question back to them. Know that whatever they say back, they are lying.

As you’re leaving the building, you’ll want to find a buddy. Do not attempt to begin a furlough on your own, as it is dangerous and may result in that really weird ugly crying. If you’ve done your research, you’ll know which local restaurants are offering free food. Go there and be among your people. Buy a fountain drink so you don’t feel like you’re at a soup kitchen. Think about soup kitchens and berate yourself for letting that even cross your mind. You have been off work for less than two hours, get over yourself.

Once you have eaten, it’s time to head home. You don’t want to carry around those furlough papers and now that you’re not hungry there’s not much out there for you. IMPORTANT: if you do not have wine at home, you MUST acquire some, preferably red, which is the deepest of the alcohols and will allow you to feel like you are in a movie about upper middle class people who find themselves in temporary hardship, which is, more or less, what you are.

Spend the remainder of your day/evening drinking said wine and watching musicals. Trust me. Go to sleep at a reasonable hour because you never know if they’ll call you back tomorrow (note: they won’t)!

Day Two:

You will wake up thinking you’ve been away from your job for at least a week, and you’ll forget what day it is (hint: it’s Wednesday). This is the first day you’re completely off work, and you might wake up early because your system hasn’t caught on to your new lack of schedule. Use this opportunity to see your city in a new light: a giant concrete jungle where all the free stuff is closed and everything else is really far away and too expensive anyway. If you’re lucky, you’ll have planned ahead and gotten some doctor appointments scheduled, which is great and gets you out of the house. As you wait to pick up your prescriptions, it will occur to you that you’re not sure if your health insurance is still intact and that you probably should have checked. “Oops”, you will think to yourself.

On your way home, check out what other restaurants are offering deals. If you’re not able to look this information up, be on the lookout for roving bands of 20/30/40somethings wandering around the city and just follow them. Some will still be wearing their badges, some will be in PJs, and some will be wearing suits. The only rule of free furlough meals is that there are no rules. Actually, there’s one rule: bring your badge or they won’t give you that sandwich. You will only have about five dollars in cash at this point and going to an ATM seems like a bad idea, but the fountain drink rule, much like the Hastert Rule, always applies.

It’s hard to say what you’ll spend the rest of the day doing, but wine will probably be involved again. All of your friends are at work, but feel free to text them funny animal pictures. Go to bed whenever the wine is gone.

Day Three:

This is an important turning point in your furlough. How you choose to spend day three will set you on a path that is difficult to reverse. Are you the kind of person who spends their unexpected time off taking care of chores, picking up a hobby and volunteering? Or are you the kind of person who is still wearing the same tshirt they went to work in and scraping Nutella out of the jar with your index finger while you half-pay attention to the Law and Order SVU marathon on TNT?

…that’s as far as we’ve gotten so far. More updates to come, provided the author doesn’t spend the rest of the day napping, which in all honesty she probably will.

 

Editors’ note: oy the typos!