Yesterday marked the ten-year anniversary of a tragic day that nobody will be forgetting for a very long time.
Many of us probably attended memorial services or prayer vigils, or remembered the nation's loss in some other way.
There was, however, a part of the American people that was tasked with preventing another such disaster. Local police, Homeland Security, FBI, emergency responders; they were all on high alert yesterday just in case the bad guys had a repeat performance in mind.
But for those of us who had no choice but to go about our day normally, these precautions turned into obstacles, at least in the D.C. area.
I'll give a personal example: Yesterday I had to go to work in Arlington. Normally not a problem, I just hop on I-95 north, ride it past Springfield to I-395, and get off at any of 3 different exits: 7B, 8A and 8B. On this day, however, I elected to take the HOV lanes, which are less of a hassle on weekends and move faster than the main lanes, and were especially empty that day. The trouble with the HOV lanes is there's only 2 exits north of Springfield: Eads St., which goes to the Pentagon, and Rt. 27, which is the same as exit 8B in the main lanes. I take that exit, follow 27 to Rt. 50, hang a left onto Fillmore and finish at Columbia Pike. Easy as cake, and a route that only has 3 traffic lights.
Not today, apparently.
For whatever reason on God's green earth, VDOT and the police decided to close the only two exits HOV has on I-395. Eads St, I could understand, since the Pentagon is a sore spot for a lot of people on this day, but closing Washington Blvd? Really? And no message board to tell me ahead of time?
So I'm stuck going over the 14th Street Bridge into a city so bizarre I've actually gotten lost with a GPS. At first I'm thinking "No problem, I'll just turn back around and be on the right track again."
Then I look to my left, where there are some police cars, and behind them not a single southbound lane is moving. All kinds of expletives were uttered by yours truly.
Then I calm down and think "Wait, Memorial Bridge might be clear, and I know how to get to work from there. Lemme just pull up a map on my phone..."
But no. The cellular data connection on my phone has stopped working. I don't know if the Feds have blocked traffic or what, but it has turned an annoyance into a serious problem. More expletives.
I try calling everyone I know is working to tell them I'll be late, but the manager I'm taking over for is a hardass about cell phone use during work hours and none of them is answering. Worse yet, I can't get online to look up the office number.
The next half an hour consisted of me stabbing around DC, looking for any hint of how to get to the Memorial Bridge. Have I ever mentioned that DC was designed by a schizoid?
Finally, blind luck has gotten me near the waterfront, and with a vague sense of direction I continue to drive to what I believe is my way out. Slowing me down is the fact that DC doesn't believe in road signs. I only remember ever seeing one sign for the bridge. At last I am able to visually identify the bridge I need. But of course, this is our nation's capital, where being able to see your objective rarely means you are able to get to it as easily. Much like how the government works, actually.
At last, after having to pass the bridge twice before actually getting on it, I finally returned to the Commonwealth of Virginia, only to find slower traffic on the only stretch of Washington Blvd that seemed to be open. Weirdly, they also closed the exit on Rt. 27 that takes motorists back to 395. From what I can guess, all these security measures seemed to be less about stopping terrorists and more about making it nearly impossible to go from downtown to southbound I-395.
So I finally arrived at work 20 minutes late. Doesn't sound so bad at first, but I left my house in time to be half an hour early under normal conditions.
I'm sorry to bring my baggage to bear on a day of solace, but this is apparently the price of security that our enemies have set.
So thank-you's should go around: Thank you VDOT for closing arbitrary roads. Thank you to the various police departments involved for creating a roadblock on one of the major arteries OUT of the nation's capital (which is a potential target for an enemy's attack). Thank you tourists for getting in my way on a day that makes getting into an already difficult city even harder. And thank you to the DC Planning Commission for saving money by not posting signs telling people what street they're on.
But most of all, I must thank the terrorists. Those hate-filled, dillusional, radicalist, suicidal goat-fuckers have made an otherwise ordinary day into a nightmare for all Americans, and in more ways than one.