The whup-whupping of low flying helicopters overhead, the oscillatting flashes of police vehicles blocking the streets, long lines of people patiently waiting alongside a seemingly endless row of black chain-link fence, it's about as close to a warzone as I ever want to get.
Getting into D.C. itself actually wasn't too bad. With the federal and D.C. government closed, metro was pretty empty. Me and a bunch of lost, confused tourists. But after getting off at Metro Center, everything changed. Random volunteers in orange windbreakers stood at every corner, looking almost as lost as the tourists. The D.C. Sams (uniformed, on the street helpers paid by the city) were in full effect, leaning against the nearest building and trying as hard as possible to not look helpful. A few protestors stood around, waving signs like "Beat Back Bush" and "Don't Celebrate the New Police State". I walked the few blocks from the metro station to the street my work sits on, and made my usual turn.
"Hey...hey!" someone yelled at me.
I turned around and saw a police officer running towards me, his hand at his hip, just covering his gun. After he huffed and puffed his way to me, he said, "Just where do you think you're going?"
"I work down here. On this street, on this block."
"Oh, you do. And where do you work?"
I told him the name and address of where I work.
"Uh-huh. Do you have a badge?"
"No. We don't have i.d. badges where I work."
He looked at me skeptically. "Everyone who works in D.C. has an i.d. badge."
Now this is certainly true if you work for the government. But I don't, and our place is small enough that we really don't need i.d. badges. Which I told him. I then said, "Well, I have to get work. We're open today. Can I give you a number to call, or maybe you can walk me there?"
The officer stood there for about a full minute, contemplating his options. "Open your bag," he said.
"I'll walk you to your office, but I need to look inside your bag."
So I opened my bag and showed him the books inside. He flipped through pages, I guess making sure I hadn't hollowed it out to carry something inside. He then opened my cd player, both the cd slot and the battery slot. He then patted me down and said, "Ok lets go."
I thought about making some sort of joke about cavity searches, but he didn't seem in the mood. We walked the half block to my office, and my co-workers were nice enough to tell the officer that yes, "he does indeed work here".
While I don't think I really give off that terrorist vibe, I guess I give off something because lots of other people have been strolling down the street the rest of the day. I've been jokingly accused of being a spy, a communist, and even David Spade but never a terrorist or assassin. Maybe I need to broaden my keyword search for jobs on monster.com to include "will kill for money".