Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Only Legitimate Excuse for Being Late to Work in DC: A Suspicious Package

I've never seen Massachusetts Avenue completely empty in the four years I've lived in D.C. -- until today.

My N4 WMATA bus approached the U.S. Naval Observatory when it came to a sudden stop. Just beyond the panoramic windows from my seat on the bus, cars were directed by Secret Service and Metropolitan Police to a detour while buses were instructed to stay put until further notification.

There we were, hundreds of morning commuters, stranded in the middle of Massachusetts Avenue on our way to Dupont Circle, Farragut Square, and Metro Center, waiting for a decision to be reached -- will we walk or will we wait?

So I walked.

As I approached the British Embassy, I saw a sight I've never seen before: a traffic-free Mass Ave.

It was as peaceful as I've ever seen the capital. Not a sound rang through the streets except for the occasional lawn mower. I felt like I was on an abandoned movie set -- or even worse -- one of those reality shows where the cameras jump out at you say "I'm Ashton Kutcher and you've been Punk'd!"

I continued along my journey for a total of ten minutes until I came into the next batch of troubles keeping me from getting to my job on time -- police tape roping off the Glover Bridge.

Wide-eyed 20 and 30-something's stared at the blocked off bridge as if it were the light at the end of a never ending tunnel. To make matters worse, the Police weren't any help. They knew nothing. They told us nothing. All anyone knew was that there was a "suspicious package" holding up traffic. Fantastic.

Onlookers were confused -- more specifically the foreigners let off the bus. If only they spoke English, perhaps the situation would have made more sense to them.

The only options for commuters hoping to make it to work within a respectable time span were: take the Rock Creek path to Georgetown, take a scenic route behind the left side of Glover Bridge (but there's no telling when you'll actually hit a street heading toward Farragut Square or Dupont), or wait for the situation to end before hitting the road once more by foot.

So I waited.

But I wasn't alone. Many folks like myself were all going to be late for their respective jobs.

They say you learn something new everyday. Well I'll tell you what I learned today: D.C. is the sole place where being late to work because of a "suspicious package" is viewed as not only normal but a valid excuse.

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