Obama administration officials -- from vice president Joe Biden to President Obama's chief of staff Denis McDonough -- fanned out across downtown Washington Thursday morning to greet federal employees returning to work after a 16-day government shutdown.
McDonough, in shirt sleeves and with a No. 2 pencil above his right ear, was spotted greeting returning workers shortly after 9 a.m. at the guard gate closest to the executive office building next to the White House.
McDonough could be heard greeting workers with a loud, "Good Morning!" patting a few shoulders and exchanging a few cheery remarks as he smiled at federal workers streaming into work.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stood on the steps of the Department of Agriculture building to greet returning employees and Biden was to greet employees at the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters not far from the White House.
White House reporters waiting for Biden's arrival noted a steady flow of employees into the building, reporting for work after a 16-day hiatus.
"It was depressing," Ettereteen Welch, the morning security officer, said of the shutdown. She said the time off made her realize "how much I enjoy doing what I do."
"I enjoy checking in 500 people everyday," she said.
As employees entered they were handed a one-page memo including a welcome back note from EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
"Dear friends, let me be one of the first to welcome you back to EPA and tell you that we have certainly missed you!" she wrote. "I know the past couple of weeks have been difficult, especially for families. But we are working to ensure your transition back to the office is smooth and as painless as possible."
The memo also includes 7 bullet points with logistical info about transitioning back to work. One note says that "All Government travel is cancelled thru October 20, 2013." And lastly: "Please remember to remove you 'out of office' messages from email and voicemail and touch base with your supervisor on your immediate work priorities."