Uncle Sam's odd couple -- easygoing Oscar and everything-in-its-place Felix -- share uneasy quarters at 500 C St. SW. That is the home of hard-eyed, ever-vigilant Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) folks and the more blithe-spirited gang from the Federal Labor Relations Authority.
FLRA handles in-house government vs. union squabbles. FEMA deals with head-for-the-hills nuclear attack scenarios and other disaster planning. Birds of a feather these two ain't.
Anyhow, FEMA security people like to know who comes into their building. They ask employes to wear ID badges on chains around their necks. Some FLRA folks don't like the "dog tags," which they consider unnecessary and, worse, tacky. They prefer to keep IDs in wallet, pocket or purse.
Things came to a head this week. A high-ranking FLRA type entered the building carrying -- but not wearing -- his badge of identification. Observers say FEMA guards refused to okay the FLRA VIP's non-SOP (standard operating procedure) entry. During the squabble, the flustered FLRA guy (who is new to the building) could not remember his room number, making him appear even more suspicious to FEMA door guardians, who are paid to know a sinister type when they see one.
The FLRA guy finally got in the building. But not before some unkind things were said on both sides. FEMA security people are still barking at their less security-minded tenants for failure to display IDs in the preferred manner. The FEMA types are growling about "excessive security." But some have promised to memorize their room number.