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Many workers find a way to get to the job, even in a blizzard

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She can't afford to miss even one night of work because of the weather, said Gbolie, 49, who earns $25 an hour as a licensed practical nurse caring for an elderly man.

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"If you don't work, you don't get paid," said Gbolie. She has a 17-year-old son and a daughter in college. Everything depends on what she earns. "You have to make every effort to go to work."

Although most federal offices were closed, a skeletal staff of about 200 printers and security officers for the Government Printing Office were at work Monday. Sheley Welcher, 40, an assistant production manager whose husband drove her into work from their home in Clinton, said the White House and Congress had several reports that needed printing.

"I could stay home," she said. "But I know if I did that, this work wouldn't get done."

Campbell, a security officer at the printing office who went home Monday night for the first time since arriving to work on Friday, said he was fortunate to find a chair to recline in so he could sleep four hours a night.

"I don't mind putting in the time," he said. "That's why I wear a uniform. What's good about times like this is the camaraderie of working together as a team, getting your mission accomplished. That's what you remember, the camaraderie."

Even offices that were closed needed some workers.

Francisco Ramirez, 39, a Salvadoran-born janitor who is paid $9 an hour at two jobs cleaning offices, drove through unplowed streets and took several detours to get to work by 6:30 a.m. Monday.

At the first office, more than half the employees were working from home. But those who did show up tracked in salt crystals, sand and slush.

"It makes it so much harder to clean the floors and carpets," said Ramirez, speaking on his cellphone. "I keep cleaning and then having to go back and do it all over."

Ghebrai Asmerom drove his taxi from his home in Silver Spring to BWI Marshall Airport even knowing it was closed, hoping in vain to find stranded travelers in search of a ride home. He has a $302 monthly note on his cab, he owes the airport $8,700 for a pick-up lease and he helps support an extended family, so he was desperate to find fares.

As he drove on the Beltway Monday afternoon, Asmerom predicted fares would be fewer and competition fiercer. "They're going to have their meetings and conferences through telecommuting, and all of the taxis will be fighting for customers."

Antoine Redding, 30, took 3 1/2 hours and four trains to get from his home in Baltimore to Harry's Tap Room in Arlington County, where he works as a host.

"I work at a restaurant, and they're always open, so I had to come to work," he said. "I've got to pay my bills, so I've got to come in."

He said that if a blizzard hits later this week, he will still come in as long as the trains are running.

"I'm kind of dedicated like that," he said.

Staff writers Tara Bahrampour, Michelle Boorstein, Hamil Harris, Lisa Rein and Lynda Robinson contributed to this report.


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