It's something his 10-year-old daughter said that had hammered home the impact of the US government's closure for Victor Payes.
The security guard at the Los Angeles main airport had been working for free for two weeks when Haley, the eldest of his two daughters, spoke.
"I understand there are some things we should not be paying for now," Payes told Haley. She offered to reduce her expenses to help the family.
He dismissed the anxiety of reassuring his daughters. "I just told them that there is nothing to worry about," Payes told the Daily Telegraph. "We have always been in agreement."
But the financial burden is real. This weekend, with the partial closure of the government after three weeks, Mr. Payes will not receive the pay check that is due to him.
Protesters hold placards at a rally and demonstration of officials and citizens concerned over the government's closure on Friday, January 11th. Credit: Joseph PREZIOSO / AFP
Throughout Washington DC's political life, the 29-year-old has done what he has done in the last decade: driving to the airport at 20 minutes and checking baggage for passenger safety.
Mr. Payes is a single parent sharing a room with Haley and Serena, 7, while trying to keep their family afloat despite the high cost of living in California.
But having worked since before Christmas without pay, Mr. Payes – whose work averages an annual salary of about $ 40,000 – plans to process bills with growing concern.
There is the loan payment and insurance on his car, both due in the next 10 days and costing around $ 500. There is the rent next month. There is food for the children.
"What I am saying is that we are going to succeed and that Congress and the President can see that some families will really suffer if it lasts a long time," said Mr. Payes. He does not know when he will be paid next time.
Mr. Payes is one of 800,000 federal public servants who will not be receiving their paycheques this weekend. They are prison guards, border guards, government prosecutors and tax officials.
They work for the Coast Guard, the FBI, the National Parks Service and NASA, to name a few. They are the ones who suffer most from the closure of Donald Trump.
Mr Trump, the US president, was accused of not understanding their pain as the closure approached the 22 day mark on Saturday, making it the longest in American history.
<p class = "canvas-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "This week, he doubled his promise not to sign any spending bill passed by Congress without a $ 5.7 billion for the construction of his Mexican border wall – something the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have refused to do. "data-reactid =" 41 ">This week, he doubled his promise not to sign any spending bill passed by Congress without a $ 5.7 billion for the construction of his Mexican border wall – something the Democrats, who control the House of Representatives, have refused to do.
<p class = "web-atom canvas-text Mb (1.0em) Mb (0) – sm Mt (0.8em) – sm" type = "text" content = "The impasse led Trump plans to declare a national emergency and build his wall without Congressional approval. His team is reportedly seeking a $ 13.9 billion bailout for hurricanes and forest fires to finance the move. "data-reactid =" 42 "> The impasse led Trump plans to declare a national emergency and build his wall without Congressional approval. His team is reportedly seeking a $ 13.9 billion bailout for hurricanes and forest fires to finance the move.
Members of the Federal Union of Air Traffic Controllers protest the partial closure of the US federal government at a rally outside the US Capitol in Washington DC. Photo: Jonathan Ernst / REUTERS
The workers concerned could possibly be paid for their shifts once the closure is over if Congress decides to do so, but nothing guarantees.
A prominent Democrat jokingly said that Mr. Trump – the son of a real estate mogul in New York – thought that workers affected by the closure could be saved by their father.
He retorted that many supported his desire to build the wall. (The president has referenced publications on social networks but without citing them.)
Antony Tseng, 46, is another government employee who is not properly paid. He is an environmental engineer who cleans polluted rivers and lakes on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency. [EPA].
Mr. Tseng was forced to stay home without pay – "on leave", to use the technical term, during closure, nearly half of the 800,000 affected workers.
He does not want to get into politics as a government employee, but he is clearly frustrated by the stalemate in which Washington DC is located.
Antony Tseng, Environmental Engineer at EPA, was forced to stay at home without pay during the government shutdown. Credit: Neville Elder
"I do not think people should be used as currency for a new project, a new wall or a new agenda," he said.
Like Mr. Payes, Mr. Tseng is a single parent with two daughters, although he is older and at the university. The family depends on their income.
He must be paid a week's salary this weekend thanks to the cash reserves of the EPA, but he will still have a lot to do with mortgage payments, car bills and food expenses.
"It's really very stressful, really anxious," said Tseng, fearing his credit rating will be affected or that fines will be imposed if he misses payment.
"Being able to stay positive day-to-day while the ship is sinking slowly is a bit like what I see right now.
"The best I can do is make our voices heard, let people know that these actions affect real people. Hope that the equal heads will carry it off. "