Remember the television series called “Get Smart”? It was on in the mid-sixties. Buck Henry and Mel Brooks came up with the idea. Don Adams and Barbara Feldon were the primary stars.
A crazy spy-spoof, “Get Smart” featured an organization called CONTROL, shoe phones, the cone of silence, and other unique devices that made fun of the spy gadgets populating more serious spy ventures. Don Adams was a bumbling spy known as Maxwell Smart, a.k.a. Agent 86. Smart always doing things by the book, even though doing so was counter-productive. Feldon was Agent 99. She seemed more competent and intelligent, but 86 often ended up saving 99, mostly by accident, it seemed. The two of them, along with Chief, and other agents of CONTROL, fought the forces of KAOS.
The opening sequence showed Adams as Smart marching through corridors toward walls while the theme music played. As he reached each wall, a door would open, let Smart through, and close behind him. Once he’d gone through a number of doors in this manner, he reached a telephone booth. There, he’d put in a coin and dial a number, and then wait until he was lowered from the booth.
I was reminded of this sequence often during my military career. Working in S.C.I.F.s, underground command posts, vaults, and buildings without windows, that television show’s theme music would stream into my head as we went around corners, up halls, and through doors, often without seeing other people. The biggest differences from the television show were that we all wore badges, security cameras abounded in our halls, signs warning about unauthorized access and the use of deadly force were frequent, and getting past the doors usually required us to punch numbers into a cypher-lock.
There were also red-tiled zones where only one person was authorized to stand or be at a time, to help keep the entrance secure. In later years, we also encountered retinal scans in little booths that weighed you as you looked into a scanner and entered the numbers to pass through. Your weight was on record and accessed via your badge. A five-pound leeway was permitted. This was done under the watchful eyes of security people and cameras.
That was over twenty years ago. I wonder if they still do all those things? They’ve probably moved on to comparing DNA by now.