Way, way, way off the Beltway

Wednesday - 6/27/2012, 2:00am EDT

While I'm on vacation, I asked some regular readers if they would write the column. After all, nobody knows the government better than the folks who work for it...

For those of us who live off the Beltway — make that off either coast, make that in the middle of our great country. OK, OK in the wild, wild West — the comments made by the people in the Beltway are a puzzle. For example, over Memorial Day weekend, Mike was complaining about the heat and more comments were made about global warming than not. Those of us in the Mountain West were expecting snow. Global warming to the Beltway is a typical spring to us.

The opposite is when the Beltway gets snow. The whole world shuts down. Even though we walk five miles through the snow everyday to work (OK, so I drive 6), those of us in the West go to work. But, there are some hardships; services can go down that are operated by those in the Beltway, such as our intranet and Outlook.

Not only am I in the Wild West, I am also in a small Post of Duty (POD) that used to be an Area Headquarters before a few reinventions ago. Now, there are 22 employees and two managers. Now do the manager's manage 11 people each?...of course not. We have 12 managers for 22 employees. The manager's are all over the country from 100 miles away to a couple of thousand. Some manager's have never even been to see their employee in the POD. Now don't get me wrong, this is a good thing! Not having a manager breathe down your neck is kind of nice! We all just get our work done, there are pluses to not having a manager on site.

Other differences are the distances. While those of you in the Beltway may spend a couple hours behind the windshield to get to work, we do it to get to our field calls. Only we are going up to 100 to 150 miles each way. And yes, at times through snow. Luckily for me, most is on an interstate or a two-lane state highway, but the ending point could be miles up dirt or gravel road. We get directions at times about how many dirt roads to cross before getting to the one we need. I have put a town's name into my Garmin and had it reply "What town?"

I do enjoy my visits to the Beltway, wondering around the monuments reflecting and admiring, going "Wow" when watching the traffic and generally enjoying all the fun things to do. I prefer my life way outside the Beltway. Short commute, perfect summers and looking at a panoramic ring of mountains every day is worth not being in the center of government.

Linda Heeney
Revenue agent


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jack Moore

In Montana, the word "ditch" can be used when ordering a drink to signify adding water, according to Legends of America.

"I'd like a Jack Daniel's ditch, please" means, "I'd like a Jack Daniel's and water." This is not a joke. In fact, all you really have to ask for is a "Jack ditch." Try it out the next time you find yourself in a Montana saloon.


MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO

USPS overpays pension obligations by $13.1 billion, IG report says
A new inspector general audit revealed that the Postal Service has overfunded its pension benefit obligations by nearly 105 percent. While this might seem to be good news for the cash- strapped agency, legislative action will be required for USPS to get back the $13.1 billion surplus it paid into its employees' pensions.

Pathways offers departments access to fresh talent
The Pathways Program is aimed at making it easier for agencies to bring in new talent and to tailor-train potential employees to fit the special needs of a position. Pathways launches July 10 with three distinct tracks to help smooth the way for current or recently graduated students to gain experience in working for the federal government.