RYAN BAKKEN: Essential thoughts on nonessential thingsThe government shutdown has not only thinned the wallets of 800,000 federal employees; it’s also bruised their egos.
By: Ryan Bakken, Grand Forks Herald
The government shutdown has not only thinned the wallets of 800,000 federal employees; it’s also bruised their egos.
That’s because those 800,000 have been deemed “nonessential.” Everyone wants to be needed, or at least feel wanted. A “nonessential” branding indicates that life can go on without you and your job skills.
Everyone has an idea of who should be furloughed, the politically-correct term for federal workers being laid off. I posed the question of who should be furloughed to Leeds (N.D.) High School students touring the Herald last week. They gave me two answers: teachers and game wardens.
What’s surprising to me is that Vice President Joe Biden wasn’t furloughed, because his work is mostly ceremonial. The VP office-holder’s job basically is to greet B List visitors to the White House. A tail-wagging dog can perform that duty.
I’m not picking on our VP. The world is full of non-essentials, including most Herald columnists.
The exception, of course, is named Marilyn Hagerty. She is essential because she warns us about eateries that have flimsy napkins or limited breadsticks and because she draws international attention to Grand Forks as she hobnobs with celebrities like Anderson Cooper (or is it Cooper Anderson?).
Clearly, Marilyn never would be deemed nonessential. Nor would many others working in the private sector.
Here are a few others who would never make my nonessential list.
• Zamboni drivers.
Without Zamboni drivers, we wouldn’t have smooth ice. Without smooth ice, we wouldn’t have hockey. Without hockey, how would the natives survive winter?
• High school dance chaperones.
The need for chaperones has magnified greatly since I patrolled the dark regions of the Thompson (N.D.) High School gym with my miner’s helmet and ruler to calibrate the proper distance between slow-dance partners. Chaperone duties now include policing “grinding,” an R-rated version of the PG-rated “twist” of the 1960s.
The grinding threat requires a no-nonsense chaperone. In addition to being tough, chaperones also can’t blush easily.
• Dakota Harvest bakers.
Sure, a chocolate chip cookie may not be the healthiest option for the mid-afternoon energy boost needed by workers downtown. However, that snack is still better than 16 ounces of Red Bull or Mountain Dew, right?
Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1125; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.