At this point I'm afraid to go.
I, who have never in my life had any fear of flying am now anxious about my upcoming flight. In truth, until the government shutdown is over and all aviation workers are back on the job with their pay - and back pay - reinstated I don't want to set foot on a plane. Because:
1. The personnel who inspect the planes and equipment before takeoff have been furloughed. This means that nobody has been inspecting the planes for safety.
2. Some aviation inspectors have been called back to work but without pay. The technicians who maintain the planes and equipment are also working without pay. So are the air traffic controllers. So are the baggage screeners.
So: The techs who are doing the plane maintenance haven't been paid in weeks and either no one's inspecting their work or the inspectors are also not getting paid. That's making me nervous.
It's also making me nervous that air traffic controllers are not getting paid. Mix the normal high pressure of that job with the added stress, resentment and frustration of not getting paid and how long until air traffic controllers start calling in sick? Or making mistakes on the job? How much stress, resentment and frustration can someone work under until they start making mistakes on the job?
My confidence as an airline passenger is not high. Plus I feel really badly, as I'm sure most of the rest of the country does, about the hardship these people and their families are suffering and I'd feel guilty about them having to serve me while not getting paid for their service.
But then, in a worst case one can cancel a trip and avoid getting on a plane.
What none of us can avoid is eating, and now I'm worried about eating, too. Because:
1. Since the Food and Drug Administration is one of the agencies going unfunded during the shutdown, food safety inspectors of foods that have a high risk of bacterial contamination - such as fruits, vegetables, seafood, cheese, and eggs - have been furloughed.
2. Meat and poultry inspectors are still on the job but they aren't being paid. Meat and poultry inspection is a taxing job even when the inspectors are getting paid.
So: The people who keep our food supply safe are either not there or are being expected to do their job without pay and food safety experts are now worried about outbreaks of food poisoning due to the shutdown.
Furthermore, due to the shutdown the federal government hasn't been able to pay the quarterly $5 million water bill now overdue for the use of water at the White House.
I sincerely hope the DC Water Company turns off Donald and Melania's water.