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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Lost in DC! Part Deux - Arlington

When I left off last night, Sam and I had just been deposited in front of the Station Centre mall in Arlington, Viginia by a guardian angel disguised as a cabbie:

After what we had just experienced and heard over at the Pentagon, I was naturally very concerned about our fellow travelers and made several attempts to reach them via their cell phones. All of their phones went straight to voice mail; this made me even more concerned for their well-being. I finally was able to reach Bruce Hall, who told us to stay put and he would contact our driver to see about picking us up at the mall and call me back. After I hung up I noticed that my cell phone was nearly dead! My charger cable was. . .in the bus. Great. . .my only link to getting out of this jam was nearly spent.

Sam and I went into the mall to find a restroom and get out of the cold. According to the mall directory we looked at, there was ONE RESTROOM in the entire SIX-FLOOR mall. We found it on the lower level and, surprise, a big line. I decided I would have just have to suffer in silence or go somewhere else as there was no way I was going to leave Sam alone while I waited my turn. On our way back across the lower level I saw, like a shining ray from above. . .a Verizon Wireless kiosk! I approached the young man at the counter, explained that we were from out of town and seperated from our group with a dead cell battery, and inquired about buying a spare battery. He insisted on merely charging my phone for me, which took about 45 minutes.

While we waited, we grabbed pretzels and drinks and shopped for souveneirs for Samantha to take home. She had promised to bring back a trinket for her friend Kelsey, and we looked at several stores for keychains and trinkets with both their names to no avail. We finally found DC license plate bike tags with both names, and headed back downstairs to pick up my phone. After making a quick dash to the Men's room, which now had no line, we reapproached the Verizon kiosk. The courteous young man behind the counter advised me that I had just missed a call. I thanked him for his help and we proceeded outside to try and call our friends again.

It was Bruce who had called, and he left me a voice-mail that the rally had ended early, around 4:15 and that it would be best if we could get a cab back to the bus. Hoping that the Pentagon police would let us through now that the march and rally had ended, we approached another taxi, and the driver agreed to take us to the north Pentagon lot if it were possible. We got clear to the very entrance this time before being stopped again. Nobody was getting through to the north lot without federal clearance/identification.

I again called Bruce to advise him of our situation. He said they were nearly ready to leave and, since we were at the only exit for the buses, to hang tight and they would pick us up on their way out. I relayed this to the police and went back to the cabbie, who only asked me for $6.35! Whatever else you care to say about the DC area, the cabbies there are ACES in my book! I gave him $15 and sent him on his way. Sam and I then sat down on the curb to wait for our bus to arrive, Sam still stubbornly holding onto her slurpie from the mall despite the cold. I could see that the temps were getting to her once again, and I asked one of the officers if they could possibly allow her to sit inside their vehicle.

He stated that it "was against policy and would be my job if I were to do so", but that he would have his partner call their commander to inquire if this were possible. I know these guys were probably in high-alert mode and under pressure, but sheesh. . .I never did get an answer, and we endured another 15 minutes before our bus finally came down the drive towards the exit. We entered the bus to cheers and applause from our fellow travelers. Apparently there had been several stragglers, as our agreed-upon departure time of 5:30 had been altered and a few people had ventured off (I'd really like to know how THEY got back in!). In the end, they had decided to leave without the last person they were waitig on in order to retrieve Sam and I. That person reached Bruce on his cell phone before we travelled very far, and we went back to retrieve her.

As I stated at the beginning of my first post yesterday, Robert has the rest of the story covered very well. This fills in the missing tale of our mis-adventure in DC. Overall, my impression was quite positive despite the mis-steps that befell us along the way. We found ourselves in the company of some truly great friends and, when seperated from them, in the arms of some ordinary citizens who were angels in the eyes of Samantha and I. Alot of my cynicism disappeared and alot of my faith in other humans was reinvigorated through our experience that weekend. And, for that alone, it was worth the trip.

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Blogger Human said...

Beautiful ending.

title="comment permalink">March 20, 2007 7:59 PM  
Blogger Peacechick Mary said...

What an adventure. You've gotta save this for when Samantha is a grown woman. Here's hoping she never has to protest another war and war will be a dim memory.

title="comment permalink">March 20, 2007 8:53 PM  
Blogger Stan Matuska said...

Very touching story. Again, I am thankful I didn't have to endure what you did, but I am proud of you for doing so.

title="comment permalink">March 21, 2007 7:47 AM  
Blogger Sewmouse said...

I'm still kind of amazed that there was NO provision made for dealing with folks who collapsed or were unable to continue the march - especially with the hate-squads out in force with their threats of violence aforehand.

If one of those "Eagles" of hatred had thrown something that injured one of the peace marchers, how exactly were the DC folks planning to deal with that? OR was that Shrub's answer to the peace marchers? "If you come to my town, expect to receive nothing but hate and violence and indifference to your health?"

title="comment permalink">March 21, 2007 9:32 AM  
Blogger azgoddess said...

what a wonderful story....

title="comment permalink">March 21, 2007 4:22 PM  
Blogger Hill said...

OK, here's what you do. NEXT TIME, bring Sam to Austin. Warm weather and nice cops. What more could you possibly want?

title="comment permalink">March 21, 2007 8:48 PM  

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