In Shutdown City, the BlackBerry is the forbidden fruit.
Bonnie Tuma stares longingly at her government-issued smartphone with scary frequency. “I’m facing it in the charger,” said Tuma, a furloughed human resources manager at the National Institutes of Health. “I have to pull myself away. It’s not easy. I have to stop myself.”
The silenced, non-vibrating, non-lit BlackBerrys and iPhones have become, for many government workers, a symbol of the work they yearn to do but can’t.
Some are pondering ways to cheat, losing their will to stay away and risking a $5,000 fine and a trip to federal prison as the shutdown stretched into its second week. Temptations are everywhere, especially through personal technology. Contractors are e-mailing government workers on their personal e-mail accounts. Web browser bookmarks on home computers offer quick paths to government intranets.
In case you missed it, The Washington Post published a compelling story about federal government workers who are sneakily working during the shut down. One anonymous source says he’s maintaining servers in his own home now because he’s too scared to log in remotely in case he leaves a digital footprint.