Washington's bureaucratic wheels were at rest for two hours or more yesterday as thousands of federal workers abandoned dry offices to wait in heavy rain to greet the victorious Redskins.
President Reagan cleared yesterday's work respite Tuesday by granting federal workers two hours of "administrative" (paid) leave between noon and 2 p.m. if their supervisors agreed.
When buses carrying the Redskins moved down 14th Street, the normally drab federal windows overlooking the street were teeming with boisterous fans. Joyfully, they threw confetti and streams of toilet paper. They leaned out precariously for a better view, getting soaked but not caring.
Others fought for a view from curbside, and lost. "There was no street," said IRS cafeteria cashier Freda Holland, who stepped out onto Constitution Avenue. "Everything was people, umbrellas and people."
Jerome Alston, an elevator repairman for the General Services Administration, thought he had an advantange--a 12-foot ladder--which he leaned against a building and climbed with another man. "The only thing I could see was the tops of people's heads," he laughed after it was over.
Word of the special leave went out Tuesday evening, allowing fans to bring children and plot strategy for the best vantage point well in advance. The seventh floor balcony atop the IRS building on Constitution Avenue was a favorite.
Yesterday morning, posted memos, electronic billboards and the office grapevine took care of almost everyone who still didn't know.
At the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary Samuel Pierce issued a memo informing employes of the leave in terse official language. At the bottom, he sweetened it with: "HAIL TO THE REDSKINS." Pierce was an All-American halfback at Cornell University.
Throughout the government, few were sure if the respite was two hours leave, plus the usual half hour for lunch, or two hours leave, including lunch. No one seemed to care. As the parade drew near, people vanished and phones rang unanswered.
Not everyone, however, took up Reagan's offer. Bob Pritchett, chief of the Freedom of Information office at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, spent the time reviewing letters in his fourth-floor office. "I've been watching the Redskins for 35 years," he said." But being raised and brought up in Washington, D.C., I've seen all the parades I want to see."
One Labor Department employe who declined to give her name said she used the time to go to church, as she does most Wednesdays.
Other employes said two hours leave for a parade would not sit well with the public when the White House is arguing for a freeze on federal salaries. "Let me keep my in-grade increase and let me celebrate the Redskins' victory in my own way," said Gloria Brown, an information technician at the U.S. Forest Service who said she stayed on the job.
Many essential people remained behind. Technicians in the Federal Aviation Administration's air traffic control room and communications center, for instance, stayed on the job.
The president apparently counted himself an essential. A White House spokesman said Reagan spent the time at work, chairing a cabinet meeting, eating lunch at his Oval Office desk and meeting with representatives of Afghan guerrillas.