Monday, November 9, 2009

Pentagon Gouge: Badge Holders

Ahhh, badges.

If you work in or near the Pentagon, then chances are you've got AT LEAST TWO badges to either dangle from your neck or stuff in your wallet. I can't for the life of me figure out why your PENTAGON badge can't get you access to the PENTAGON Athletic Center (a.k.a. "PAC"), but there's TWO badges right there.

Depending on where you work though, you may have even more than those two badges to keep handy - such as an IC badge, but then you'd also like to keep your CAC card and Metro SmartCard handy, too, right???

To complicate matters, each badge has it's own special needs...

The Pentagon badge and the PAC badge are both designed to swipe through the bar code reader at the turnstyles, so the hole to put it on a lanyard is off-center to enable you to swipe the card without taking it off the lanyard, but you can't put both on the same lanyard because they would block each other from being swiped. What I've seen some guys do is put the Pentagon badge and the PAC badge on the same lanyard, but back-to-back so one sticks out to the left and one sticks out to the right and you can swipe either one without taking them off the lanyard.

You have to be able to pull your CAC card out to stick it in your computer keyboard. The IC badge can't have anything else near it when you hold it up to the badge readers, so it kind of needs it's own separate badge holder or needs the ability to pull the badge out.

The Metro SmartCard is actually the easiest of all - you can actually leave it in your wallet and the SmartCard readers can still read it. I never actually take my SmartCard out of my wallet - just tap my wallet against the SmartCard readers and keep going.

I know it may seem like a trivial matter, but you will probably find yourself perusing the Pentagon gift shop within a week of reporting aboard and wondering which of the half dozen or so varieties of badge holders works best.

Six to choose from here, plus a couple more around the corner.

In my case, I was looking for one that would hold two badges. Initially, I was using a side-loading one like the one on the left in this picture:

The side-loading aspect was nice because it was easy for me to slide my badge in and out of the holder when I needed it to swipe in and out of the building. However (comma) it didn't work out so well in the end. You see, the little plastic thing in the middle that puts pressure on the badges and keeps them in the holder eventually wears out and breaks off. Then, your badges have a tendency to just slide out and fall on the floor when you aren't looking.

That would be bad.

I suspect the badge on the right in the image above would have the same problem with the plastic tension device wearing out, but at least gravity would keep the badges IN the badge holder for you. The problem with the badge holder on the right is that in order to take one badge out to swipe it, you have to take both badges out, and then you're fumbling around with both badges out of the holder and risk dropping or losing one in the process of putting them back.

The badge holder I'm using now is one of these:

I like it because:
1) It loads from the top, so gravity keeps the badges inside.
2) It doesn't have any plastic tension device to get worn out and break off.
3) It's got convenient finger holes on the front and back that enable you to push up either the badge in the front or the badge in the back without affecting the other badge in the holder.

Here endeth the unsolicited advice on badge holders.


Loping Squid said...

Kev, I would say you were very strange to be thinking about things like this, if I didn't worry about the same. (and I only have one badge.) I keep my CAC in my wallet until I need it.

Nereus said...

The Pentagon requirment is 37 pieces of flair.

Too bad they don't have a "universal" badges. Swip strip on back, CAC style chip on front, alpha numerical code on side of picture for access to areas, and even color coded for access levels.
But that would be simple...