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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/17/2009

At O'Faolain's, Planning Ahead

By Fritz Hahn

Twins Jennifer Arroyo and Jamie Kerkstra enjoy an early morning pint at O'Faolain's. (Fritz Hahn/

10:30 a.m.: Dozens of people were in line outside O'Faolain's before the pub even opened its doors at 8, but don't be fooled: this is not a spur-of-the-moment crowd. The large group of volunteer firefighters occupying two prime tables near the bar boast they made their reservation "last St Patrick's Day." Firefighter Andy Brown, wearing a towering Guinness hat and already holding a stack of empty cups, says he requested the day off "two months ago." Some of his friends laugh and boast they took the day off three months ago.

Brown got into the pub at 8:30, and he says his group plans to stay until last call, though "we might have to take a break in the afternoon."

At the bar, Meghan "No last name -- I'll get fired" explains that she takes every March 17 off -- and March 18, too. "This is my holy day of obligation, and tomorrow is my holy day of recovery." Of course, she says, it helps to have an understanding boss. "This is an annual event. We have a group calendar at work, they know not to schedule meetings or anything I have to be at [on those days]."

Despite this, Meghan and her friends don't plan on sticking around all day. "The novices show up after 4, all decked up and stumbling around. That's when we head out."

One of the reasons I decided to head to O'Faolain's this morning was to check out the general manager's claim that office workers from Ashburn and Sterling sneak out of the office to celebrate St. Patrick's Day while taking advantage of the pub's free Wi-Fi to get a little work done while they're there. Sure enough, I saw customers using their laptops and wireless devices.

Suzanne (again, no last name), who works "in HR," and Amy (ditto), an industrial designer, are sitting at a table near the door, alternately sipping on cups of cider and tapping away on their BlackBerries. "I took the day off, but because I am a dedicated employee, I'm still checking my e-mail," says Suzanne. "Every time it lights up, I check it."

Even on St. Patrick's Day, the work never ends.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 17, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
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