NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's her eyes that give it away, sitting across from her at a booth inside Nashville's Picadilly Cafe I could see the worry that's been keeping Vivian Hunt awake at night.
Vivian, is 59-years-old, an employee of the Internal Revenue Service who lives in Smyrna. The last time she got a paycheck was on December 31 of 2018. This strong, proud woman has already started dipping into her savings account. She's called her credit card companies to ask forgiveness on late fees for payments she's missed and she has no idea when this government shutdown will end.
"Why are we expected to come to work but yet not be compensated for it?" Vivian wondered allowed, her face turning to the rain that was hitting the window next to the booth she's sitting in.
She tried to cover her face with a camouflage baseball cap.
For right now this seven year employee of the IRS has been able to make her mortgage payments thanks to her husband. But Vivian has had to stop payments to the in-home nurse she hired to help with her elderly, disabled mother.
"She needs in-home care, I haven't been able to pay for that and she doesn't have anyone to come in and help her. She's suffering," Vivian says.
What worries Vivian and thousands of other federal employees the most right now, is the lack of negotiating that seems to be going on in Washington D.C. to end the shutdown. Vivian can't apply for unemployment because she's required to be at work. If the shutdown drags on in February, she's considering finding other job, "We're civil servants, we take an other and we take that seriously. We want to work but we want to be paid for the work we do as anyone does."
Vivian and dozens of other federal employees were crammed into the backroom of this Murfreesboro Road restaurant. They were part of small rally organized by local labor unions to draw attention to the shutdown and the impact it's having on Nashville area residents.
"Apparently the government, they've forgotten about us."