The blizzard that swept up the East Coast Feb. 11-12 was handled in different ways by Uncle Sam's outposts from Virginia to Massachusetts.
Here at the seat of government, many of the area's 342,000 civil servants struggled in Friday morning, only to be told to go home.
It was different elsewhere.
In Norfolk-Portsmouth, home of 35,000 government workers, it rained on Friday. The government went on as ususal.
In Richmond, hit before us (with about 14 inches in all), the area's 9,800 federal employes got the day off.
Just a few miles north of us, in Baltimore, federal officials took one look at what was happening to us and told the town's nearly 60,000 feds to stay home.
Philadelphia got the storm later. Officials shut down federal offices at noon, sending 71,000 U.S. aides home.
New York City, home of 92,000 federal employes, got the snowstorm later still. It sent feds home at 2:45 p.m.
By the time the storm hit Boston (37,000 federal workers), the workday was over. Nobody was sent home early.
The storm is long gone, but the memory lingers on. Here are some more comments from survivors--federal and nonfederal:
* "We as a group of telephone operators with the C&P Telephone Company are very put out about your column, and the TV about the 'poor federal workers' that had to come in . . . as operators we must be on the job, no vacation days when it snows . . . many of us spent the night on chairs and sofas so we would be on the job in the morning . . . . The federal people are just used to getting off when it snows and for things like the Super Bowl parade. But if they couldn't get an operator when they got home, they sure would be mad . . . ."
* "Many employes who did not report to work on Feb. 11 screamed about whether they would be given four hours of administrative leave . . . If these same screaming employes would make the same noise about some of this administrations' proposals . . . maybe we would see the same reversals and quick decisions as made by the Office of Personnel Management to grant them four hours too for the day in question." -- H.B. in Hyattsville.
* "I read with interest your Feb. 15 column regarding the caller from Kensington and her concern relative to granting federal employes leave on Friday. Obviously she is out of touch with reality. In keeping with her quote 'my husband went in Friday morning and didn't get back home until Saturday morning,' possibly her question and her concern should not as much be why grant administrative leave to federal employes, but where did her husband stay Friday night? P.S. Oh--incidentally, I came in, but made it home." -- A.T.W.G., a federal employe.