Sunday, November 7, 2010

A quick visit to our nation's capitol, day 2

On October 30, the day after going to the Air and Space Museum out by Dulles, we thought we'd continue our trip to D.C. by heading to the Mall. Our party of seven left our hotel in Falls Church at 9:30am and walked the half mile to the Metro stop, where we encountered this:

I took this photo about two hours after we got in line. The line started to the left of the overpass, continued a block to the right, wrapped around about a fourth of a block and then continued another half block into the Metro station.

By the time we had tickets and were on the platform, it was 12:10pm. All of the trains heading into D.C. were so crammed full of people, there was no way for anyone else to squeeze in. We finally got seats by squeezing into a train heading in the wrong direction and riding one stop to the end of the line. More folks squeezed on there, and we changed direction and headed into D.C.

The trip would have been more pleasant if it hadn't been over three hours and a nice big glass of OJ since I'd last peed. Instead of joining in the general conviviality of the singing crowd (yes, when happy people who share common goals are crammed on trains like sardines, spontaneous singing may erupt), I hunkered down and tried not to think about Tycho Brahe's dismal death. By 1pm, still a few stops from the Smithsonian, there was no alternative but to escape--"coming through! coming through!"--and S, E, and I dashed up to the restrooms in the George Washington University Hospital cafeteria.

It turns out that holding your bladder in a cramped public space for that long makes you a little jittery and tense even post-restroom, so that when a seemingly innocuous woman asks you what that sign you're holding is supposed to mean, and you offer a friendly explanation even though you think the sign seems straightforward enough, and she calmly goes on and on about how you you've got it all wrong and politicians are just doing what they're supposed to do and why do you think things should be any different and how people who attend rallies always think they're being useful but they're really not and what makes you think politicians shouldn't be obfuscatory and so on and so forth, somehow eventually making her way to what was apparently her goal all along about "all those evangelicals and pro-Israel people" in your part of the country who have gotten us into the mess we're in, all the while claiming she's just trying to understand your sign...and because she won't shut up even after you tell her you're done talking with her about this, and because you're still super edgy and irritable from the whole peeing thing...well, that's when, instead of walking away like a mature adult, you might instead ironically find yourself shouting "leave me alone or I'll call security" and then stuffing your fingers in your ears and shouting "I don't want to listen to you so I'm going to cover my ears and talk over you because I really don't want to listen to you, blah blah blah I can't heeeear you" while holding the homemade Rally to Restore Sanity signs in the photo below:

We walked from the hospital to the Mall, finally arriving at about 2pm. We couldn't get close enough to see or hear much of the Rally program, but we did see a bunch of fine signs (see below) and dozens of Waldos.

By 3pm, we had managed, through intermittent cell-phone connections, to meet up again with J and M and their kids, whom we had abandoned when we bailed on the Metro. Since the rally had ended, we headed to Chinatown with a quarter of a million other people for an early dinner. Our small group didn't even attempt to find a table anywhere and instead headed (noooooooooo!) into the stuffy underground darkness of the Metro to play another hour of Sardines with a thousand like-minded folks. Since none of our party had remembered to eat lunch, saying we were all a little cranky is an understatement. In desperation, we eventually got on the only train that had any room and rode it to Rosslyn, where we got out, had some dinner at a restaurant where we waited in line for a table and waited in line to use the restroom, and finally caught a packed connecting train back to Falls Church.

The drive home was uneventful and quick and involved no lines at all.

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