Comfort in numbers sews lasting summer memories
By Chrissy Cuttita, Team Eglin Public Affairs
/ Published August 26, 2013
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Summers are often paired with establishing family memories and sparking new relationships. Furlough Freddie is definitely a character we'll never forget although his season is coming to a close. We met online at the unofficial Facebook group page titled "How I spent my furlough day." Probably a breakthrough in connecting people, this virtual meeting place gave federal employees an opportunity to share resources, vent frustrations, address issues and have a hearty laugh in tough times.
Freddie was quite beat up and often not rated for a PG audience when he showed up in the group. None the less, among numerous article shares on what the world was saying about federal employment, the doll offered a hearty chuckle. One of the members stitched him up and called him mascot for a short time just when the pain was hitting home to most check books. As many families shared ways to find discounts and balance a lesser budget, this homemade arts and crafts project was injected as comic relief posed in some ridiculous photo.
Although many felt Freddie's pain, there were plenty of people sharing their furlough days as times of community service, family bonding and a look into the "to do" things that have been pushed down on our list for years. No one would recommend being "furlo-cated" to their parent's house on half a pay check as a solution like we did. However, time became the one valued item the group would probably place the highest dollar figure. Freddie would never have been created without the forced minutes to spare.
Social media has its fair share of critics just like furlough, but in this case, I think it proved to do what the creators of Facebook intended. It became a meeting place for people who spend 40 hours a week working in similar environments with similar benefits and pay. The page for the agency behind federal employment could not have served this purpose. Freddie's friends were warned of the candidness that could come from asking a wide open question of how people spent their mandatory day off without pay.
No one seemed to shy away from expressing their deepest fears, concerns, goals, dreams, family needs, personal beliefs and hobbies. Freddie's bandages and contorted poses certainly didn't scare anyone away either. Federal employees seemed to join at a rapid pace to its healthy 4,818 members last I checked and the sewn mascot took up only a handful of 1,175 photos shared.
As with all times of crisis, it is interesting how people band together. More memories will be in my scrapbook this summer with the added days to make them and restart the hobby I left behind five years ago. Hopefully our meeting place will stay open for tough budget times ahead. If anything, I'll have a visual slideshow in my mind that'll make me laugh myself into stitches.