Several hundred federal workers have called or written this column asking us to remind President Reagan that next Thursday is Christmas Eve and, uh . . .

Many federal workers would take it kindly if the president would ring out this old year -- which has been nerve-racking to the federal establishment -- by doing what he did in 1981, the last time Christmas fell on a Friday. That was to give federal employes a half-day off -- with pay -- so they could start the holiday weekend early. The half-day holiday would be a boon to Washington area merchants. But police and transportation planners need to know the drill as soon as possible.

If federal workers get the gift of time, it will be up to bosses to determine which workers are essential and would have to stay on duty as per usual. The U.S. Postal Service, in the midst of its holiday mail season, isn't likely to give its troops extra time off even if other federal workers get the bonus half day.

If It Moves, Salute

Civilian health workers at Coast Guard headquarters are on orders to stand at attention -- except when treating patients -- when military brass come by for inspections. The directive, which has irked some civilians, says "when the inspecting officer enters your space, be on your feet (so the inspector does not have to maneuver around you to inspect), and give some sort of greeting (as a courtesy and to indicate you belong in the space and are available to answer questions). These inspections are important to check cleanliness, safety and operability of equipment."

Civilians have been advised that "you don't call doctors 'mister' or 'miss' " and that military officers should be addressed by their proper rank.

Day Care

The Internal Revenue Service will announce plans today for setting up the "most comprehensive" child care facilities in government. IRS Commissioner Larry Gibbs, General Services Administrator Terence C. Golden and Robert Tobias of the National Treasury Employees Union have scheduled a news conference to reveal when and where the child care centers will be opened.

Meetings

Ambassador Bruce L. Laingen will speak at the Jan. 13 meeting of the Arlington chapter of the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. Laingen, who was one of the American hostages in Iran, now directs efforts of the Volcker Commission, which is seeking to upgrade the status of the career civil service. For details on the NARFE meeting, call 528-1020.

Laingen recently reminded the news media that it takes more than political leaders to make a summit. He had in mind the career civil servants who put in months of extra effort to draft the recent nuclear weapons cutback agreement with the Soviet Union. The retired Foreign Service officer pointed out that while elected leaders got the glory, it was career people -- from missile counters to typists -- who did the spadework for the treaty.

Step on It

Bureau of Land Management drivers have been given permission to exceed the bureau's self-imposed speed limit of 55 miles per hour on freeways that now observe the congressionally sanctioned 65 mph limit. Before the directive, Interior drivers said the department's speed limit made them sitting ducks on superhighways.