An Official US Flag Disposal Box

I changed up my morning commute, and have been continuing underground, in the pedway further than I did before. This continued underground phase kicks me out a bit further west, and has a few more benefits.

First, I’m out of the heat a bit (and will be out of the cold a bit, come winter). It’s not overly comfortable underground, but it’s also not quite as bad as above ground. Slight trade off in smell.

Second, there’s an additional Starbucks that I can stop at. I think this one actually works with the app, but I’m still used to manually picking my coffee up. I was spoiled for a while, having a Starbucks actually inside the building where I work (used the app to order all the time), but for some strange reason they got booted out.

The Starbucks at Block 37, for reasons unknown to me, doesn’t show up on the app – so I can’t order ahead of time. The Daley Plaza Starbucks does. I’ll be trying it out again soon, but for now – it’s that much less of a distance I have to carry a cup of coffee.

I feel like a super lazy man, happy at all these minor adjustments to what I consider efficiency. But there’s the developer part of me, his hand on my shoulder, telling me softly that I’ve done the right thing here.

The end of my commute has me going topside at City Hall, with its elegant interior architecture. As I was navigating my way through the building, I spotted this guy.

Tucked quietly and unassumingly in a corner of the lobby, it’s a NACo (National Association of Counties) flag disposal box. For when you have a flag, and want to get rid of it, but don’t really know where or how.

In my line of work, we often talk about various scenarios. And oftentimes, we consider “edge cases” – situations that may occur, but with rare frequency. Seeing this, imagining someone needing to dispose of a flag seemed like an edge case to me.

But the longer I thought about it, the more it made sense. I guess you would expect something like this at City Hall?

And more than that, I began thinking about how long someone must have or own a flag, to have given it such use, that its age and state was such that it would require destruction. I began to think less about how frequent that might be, and the time needed for a flag to reach such a state. How long must it have flown? That context changed my way of thinking.

The NACo site also had this interesting PDF on U.S. flag etiquette. I found that my earlier assumption of a flag touching the ground was incorrect:

A flag does not need to be destroyed if it touches the ground… it is acceptable to wash or dry clean a flag when it gets dirty.

Also another interesting thing I learned from that PDF: the term Vexillologist.

As I’m writing this, I’m reminded of something I saw on the glass of the Metra train doors.

This has been an interesting reminder to me (and hopefully to you) that our commutes to/from work contain all manner of wonder and detail. There is the monotony of the travel itself, but there are gems along the way.

Related:
American Dumpster
A Momentary Bout of Patriotism
Quietly Patriotic

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