People like to trash federal government workers all the time as being underworked and overpaid, undeserving of even the smallest things… like basic office supplies, clean and healthy working conditions, safe drinking water, a living wage, and many other aspects that we all take for granted in an office-based work environment. But they have no idea just how difficult some of those federal government agencies are to work in, like my former employer.
This is the basement hallway in the 60-year old building where my cubicle was located for the last six years of my career before I retired. If the image looks dark, that’s because it was; budget cuts at the time were so extreme that only two lights illuminated the entire length, from one end of the long building to the other. Many of the offices on this hallway – most of which were crammed to four times (or more) of their designed capacity with cubicles – had similar levels of illumination in them; i.e., almost nothing. Of course there were no windows.
Sound levels were so loud that they were just below the OSHA levels for required ear protection. The plumbing broke at least once or twice per year, flooding most of the hallway and offices with raw sewage, which required the replacement of everything that it touched. The drinking fountains were unusable for months at a time; sometimes because high levels of lead were discovered in them, sometimes because they were saturated with other contaminants.
We didn’t have a break room, and had no place where we could wash dishes or utensils if we brought our own lunch. Trash – even food waste – was only collected twice per week, which got rank and attracted vermin. The janitorial service was laughable.
I could go on and on. I only continued working in such bad conditions because I was so close to retirement.
Photo info: Basement hallway where I worked Gaithersburg, Maryland April 2013 Apple iPhone 4S
I know they aren’t visible to the naked eye, but there really are berserker dogs in this image. They are in the parked vehicle in the left hand section of the frame. My family and I had arrived in Crescent City earlier in the afternoon, eaten an early dinner, and were taking a chilly November stroll on the dock before heading off to bed – all the while enjoying the evening lights and the neat atmospheric conditions. As we slowly wandered and sauntered around pier, dithering this way and that, we passed next to the parked vehicle…
And that’s when all hell broke loose.
Unknown to us at the time, there were two large guard dogs lurking in the car – contained only by the closed doors and windows – and when we got too close, they went absolutely apeshit and proceeded to completely rip the interior of the car to pieces in their anger at not being able to do the same to us. The dogs – backlit and in silhouette – were raging, the car was violently rocking, and we could see large chunks of upholstery being tossed around in the interior like an F2 tornado was loose in it.
Once we got over our initial shock, we found the slapstick scene to be hilarious and guffawed to the point where we could hardly walk, with the dogs continuing to go berserk at the sight of us. We ended up beating a hasty retreat, though we continued to belly laugh all the way to our hotel rooms some distance away. We never saw anyone come out and check on the dogs, and wondered what they would think of the destruction when they finally did.
Photo info: November night on the dock Harbor District Crescent City, California November 2012 Leica Summilux 50/1.4 ASPH lens Sony NEX-5N digital camera
From one of my many visits to Baltimore. Prior to the pandemic, I would typically visit the various sights in Baltimore once or twice per year. I think that this is the longest period I’ve gone without having dropped by at some point – approaching nearly two years or more now. For those interested, this is the lightship Chesapeake (LV-116) and you can read about it here.
Photo info: The lightship Chesapeake (LV-116) The Inner Harbor Baltimore, Maryland March 2015 Eastman Double-X 5222 film Voigtländer Heliar 15/4.5 ASPH lens Leica M3 35mm film camera