As the federal government shutdown continues, thousands of federal employees are working without pay as a result of the lapse in funding for their operations.
The list of toilers who don't know when they will receive their next paycheck includes many employees of the National Weather Service who have been deemed "essential" due to the importance of their work.
And it appears that one or more of the forecasters who are working to provide the nation with weather information without pay have taken their frustrations out, via a covert phrase included in a forecast dispatch posted on the agency's website Friday.
Their message: "please pay us" [click here to view the message online, though it will likely be taken down once word of its existence makes the rounds.] Upon first glance, the "Southcentral and Southwest Alaska Forecast Discussion" sent out Friday morning seems entirely normal.
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But upon closer scrutiny, readers will see that the three-word plea has been embedded within the text. Compiling the first letter of each line in the first paragraph of the statement spells out the short demand by the anonymous workers behind the ruse, which makes fine use of the device known as an "acrostic."
The importance of National Weather Service employees is being made starkly clear this weekend as Tropical Storm Karen threatens the Gulf Coast.
It's the latest, and most darkly funny, sign of the impacts the shutdown is having on federal employees, many of whom have had to forgo pay. Ones deemed "essential" have to report anyway, while many thousands more are left twiddling their thumbs at home, waiting for political leaders in Washington, D.C., to send them back to work.