If you are fed up with cigarettes, radios and children at the office, welcome to the not-so-silent federal majority. Lots of Monday Morning Quarterback feedback from a letter last week. In it, a fed asked why Uncle Sam doesn't ban smoking in public buildings, or at least enforce the rules in no-smoking areas.
Everyone who responded endorsed the idea of smoking curbs. A number of people also asked why they have to listen to their colleagues' radios and/or receivers that pick up the audio portion of television soap operas.
Here they go:
* "Your correspondent was correct about nonsmokers' rights. I have a complaint about another form of pollution: radios. In my section several people have them going all the time. One man has earphones (although his head-bobbing is distracting), however most people 'share' the tunes, talk and news shows with all of us. When the soaps come on all action, brain and otherwise, stops for several hours." M.S.C., Washington.
* "You bet I'm burned about smoking. Banning it would be a blessing. But the attitude that exists in my agency -- the General Services Administration -- is that smokers have rights, radio-players have rights! How can people be so utterly inconsiderate of others as to force their despicable habits on them, leaving us nonsmokers and nonradio players completely at their mercy.
"Radio playing is an insidious habit. People don't seem to have work to do so they entertain themselves with their soap operas or what have you. I find being subjected to someone else's noise, which is continuous, the day long a mental cruelty. My supervisor told me I have a right to ask them to turn the radio down. This I have to do, not once, but every day, at extreme peril to myself." No Name, Whistleblowers Are Not Treated Kindly.
* "Ban smoking in government buildings. I work for the Postal Service which issued policy guidelines in 1984 stating in essence that it is a matter of common courtesy where to and where not to smoke.
"I am very allergic to smoke and have continual medical problems associated with it. I have so informed my managers who have neglected to take steps to remedy the situation. My work area is close to smokers who do not 'reflect the sense of common courtesy.' I bought and use an air purifier, but it is not very effective in an open office area.
"There must be others in the same situation. Why must we contend with the habits of others that are harmful to our health." F.L., Glenn Dale.
* "I will trade the smokers in other offices for the people in my building who use this place as a day-care center. Snow days, school holidays, it seems like some people always have their children in here. I realize there are times when this may be unavoidable, but not a couple of times a week!
"Children race around, use (and sometimes abuse) expensive machinery, and subject themselves to danger. The parents seem oblivious to the activities of their offspring. When the bosses bring in their children somebody else gets to entertain the darlings and take them to the cafeteria all the while being forced to keep a bright happy smile. I love children, and have them myself. But mine stay home." Federal Baby-Sitter.
If you want to sound off, this is the place, and Monday is your space. Send your comments to me, c/o Monday Morning Quarterback, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.