It's about power. And control.
The Pisgah Inn, a privately run restaurant run by the same family for decades on Federal land decided to stay open during the shutdown. Since the restaurant isn't staffed or funded by the government, there was no rational reason for shutting it down.
At a spot 5,000 feet above sea level and 20 miles from the nearest town, an innkeeper decided Friday to defy the federal government and reopen his lodge.
That stand lasted about two hours as National Park Service rangers blocked the entrances to the privately run Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway after owner Bruce O'Connell decided to reopen his dining room, gift shop and country store at noon Friday for lunch.
A handful of guests had lunch before Park Service patrol cars blocked the driveways, turning on their orange flashing lights. Rangers turned customers away, saying the government was closed.
The government employees were apparently incapable of distinguishing between the government and an inn. It's a natural mistake since they have a free lunch.
"If they were government employees, they'd get back pay when government re-funded," said Baird Lefter of Waynesville, N.C., in a valley about 20 miles northwest of the inn. He was dining with his wife and a friend. "They are just being shut out of work. And if they haven't closed the parkway why should they close the concessions?"
100 employees are idled; 35 live on the property.
There's a perfectly good reason why the government can't allow a restaurant that it doesn't fund to stay open, but has the resources to send employees to keep people from eating there.
The parkway's chief ranger, Steve Stinnett, said Park Service managers in Washington directed him to block access to the inn at milepost 408.6 and ensure "people don't utilize a business that, according to the federal government, is closed."
The business is open. But the government has decided it's really closed. So the government sent its enforcers down to prevent people from patronizing a business that is open to make reality conform to the government's view of reality.
The oceans better watch out.