And it appears that someone in the standoff finally blinked – at the All Hands meeting on the 18th of October, Steve Dunbar, our Station Manager, announced that thanks to the Continuing Resolution, the program would be restarting – USAP lives once again! Everyone who had been terminated would be reinstated! Hooray!
Unfortunately, the shutdown would leave the remainder of the summer season severely crippled. Steve was emphatic that while our original operating budget would be reinstated, it had already been severely cut by the sequester earlier in the year and there wasn’t a whole lot of wiggle room to make up for the additional costs of sending several hundred people back home from wherever they had been when they’d been stopped in transit. It would take longer to get some roles filled because eight hundred PQs (Physical Qualification exams) had been stopped and would have to be restarted and “The Gap”, the period of time when the C17s were scheduled to stop flying, was approaching. This is particularly detrimental for science that had been projected for the summer, as their cargo was already 4 weeks delayed and work on assembling it all had been halted. They would need to recommence gathering all their necessary equipment and try and have it ready within a month. For projects like those at LDB or on the Sea Ice, where experiments rely heavily on a small window of good weather conditions, that was really pushing it, and it was unlikely they would be able to make it down.
The silver lining was that while the Continuing Resolution that was passed would only go until the 15th of January, if there was another shutdown, we would already be in drawdown mode at that point, and most importantly, our cargo vessel would already be on its way, so at least the threat to next summer’s research season would be mitigated.
And finally, Steve announced that the bar would indeed be open that night. I went, along with what felt like the entire rest of the station, and everyone was slightly giddy with relief.
Interestingly, I talked with some of the people I had met who had been slated for contract termination – people to whom I had listened when they were upset and needing to vent and a couple of them were actually considering leaving anyway because they felt so jerked around. They did, however, end up staying, but it wasn’t the reaction I was expecting.
So, NOW it finally feels like the home I’ve come to know and love. People aren’t walking around shell-shocked anymore, everyone seems to have let out one big collective sigh and settled to their work and their play more solidly. It’s a great feeling.