As I’ve mentioned before, I have a day job. The office where I work is situated next to a set of railway tracks, and across the tracks from the office is a small business park. From my window I can see a few of the buildings in the business park, and one in particular has always held a minor fascination for me due to the presence of a flagpole, from which they would regularly hang various flags from around the world. Whenever they changed the flag, which would usually happen about once every two or three weeks, I would find myself experiencing a small burst of excitement as I tried to identify the nation behind the fluttering pennant. Those flags were a strange little bright spot in my otherwise humdrum working life.
About a month ago I wandered into work and noticed that for the first time in a long time the flagpole was empty. At the time I thought nothing of it but as the days passed and no new flag was forthcoming I began to suspect that maybe my vexillological fun was drawing to an end. And this has left me feeling a little sad; I miss the flags, and I miss the occasional moments of pleasure they would bring into my life.
Okay, I know that such things are minor and the absence of a flag on a flagpole is by far the least problematic of problems in the day-to-day but those flags had been there for so long they’d become pretty much a certainty in my life. I never saw anybody raising or lowering them, never witnessed even the slightest amount of activity involved in them being changed, and that made them almost magical in my eyes. One day I would sit watching the colours of Nigeria fluttering in the breeze, and the next they would have been replaced by the glory of the Brazil, with no evidence of any activity in between to signal the change. This left me wondering who (if anybody) enacted this switch. Do the owners of the flagpole employ a qualified flag marshal to raise and lower their standards? Perhaps they have a specially trained gremlin whose job it is to swap the colours under the cover of darkness. Or maybe they simply employed esoteric arts to magically change the banner from one to another without the intervention of any physical entity. I simply didn’t know, and so my imagination ran riot.
I also wondered how they decided which flag came next. Was it just a case of grabbing the next available flag from the box, or did they have some complicated order worked out in advance? Had they set up some sort of contract system with the various embassies to display each nation’s flag for a fixed amount of time? Or was it just purely random? Again, I had no data with which to form an accurate assessment of the facts.
Now that the flags are gone I realise that I must move on. No longer can I while away the hours watching the play of canvas in wind instead of doing the job I’m paid to do, which is probably good news to my boss. Now all I have to stare at out of my window is the occasional passing train and the clouds as they scud across the sky. My working day is just that little bit less interesting. Ah well.
Edit – 04-Nov-2013
The flags are back! Today’s banner of choice is Sweden. And I am smiling inside. 🙂