austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Put your funny glasses on, leave the world behind

We assumed that dawn arrived the next morning before the alarm went off, although because of the thickness of the drapes we didn't really have evidence of that. Opening them a little revealed that it was the brightest day in the history of existence, at least compared to the interior of the room.

We were not going to the Mall by ourselves. bunny_hugger had a friend coincidentally coming down and staying in the same hotel, although the friend --- and a friend of hers --- arrived so horribly late we didn't have the chance to see them Friday night. Apparently the last word from them was that they were somewhere in New Jersey after encountering the most impossible traffic jam ever at a toll booth. I have my suspicions about which booth but did not inquire heavily.

bunny_hugger's friends brought signs, which would be an enormous component of the rally. I briefly considered bringing one but had no idea what might feel appropriate; bunny_hugger had thought more seriously about one but figured she couldn't get a respectably-sized one in her carry-on luggage. She did bring a rabbit puppet, though. After having found the back door to the hotel Friday night we were perfectly unable to re-locate it, so we ended up walking around the hotel from the front again.

We knew the rally was going to be bigger than the officially announced expectation of roughly twenty people, but it was at the Metro station when I started to really feel how enormous this was going to be. There was a mob around the farecard vending machines, with Metro workers and people in Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear shirts trying to guide people through the chaos. Not helping was that one card was completely out of one-day unlimited-ride passes; the rumor we heard was someone had come through and bought 200 of them at once, draining the machine in one transaction. The platform was mobbed too, with a modest number of sign-wielders, and a few in more elaborate costumes, and a couple people holding what looked like closed circuit TV equipment. I don't know if that was coincidental.

But the real proof of how enormous this was going to be was when the subway train arrived. Our station was just two away from the end of the line. When it arrived it was packed. There was room for us to leap on, if we were courageous and fast, and we were. And at every station somehow one or two more people were able to squeeze on. The entire carrying capacity of the Metro was being used, from the outermost fringes, to bring people to this common point. It might have been above the carrying capacity of the Metro, in fact: everyone was in such a cheerful, cooperative mood that the little bumpings of people into each other, the accidental stepping on toes, the moments when packages were shoved into someone else's chest were forgiven as part of what we all shared. A less happy crowd would have demanded more space between people. We even found ways to make tunnels for the people who warned they needed to get off the train, even though they were inevitably within the event horizon of an impossible mass of people. The train driver kept warning people that the train was packed, and there was another train just ``three minutes behind'' (initially); ``two minutes behind'' (by the time we entered the District proper); or ``immediately behind'' (by the time were were there).

The Rally people had recommended attendees leave at one of maybe six Metro stations, some of them available to us after a change of train. My feeling was that we would be best advised to get off sooner, at the first station (Metro Center) within walking range. I have a slightly generous view of walking distance around the center of a city, but it turned out about three-quarters of the train had the same idea. We got off, leaving a train about three-quarters full, and faced a mob roughly 500 feet deep before the exit gates. I recommended we hang around away from the mob until the next train arrived, and at the moment it opened the doors, rush up the escalators, so as to minimize our waiting-in-a-line time, which actually worked when the train arrived a minute later.

Metro Center was, at least on our line, the first station really in walking range of the Mall. When we emerged from it, we saw, surrounding us in every direction, walking, drifting toward the Capitol, people.

Trivia: The Rutgers Alumni Association organized in 1831; and then re-organized and adopted a new constitution in 1833 after the original (of 19 July 1831) had been lost. Source: Rutgers: A Bicentennial History, Richard P McCormick. (I don't want to cast unnecessary aspersions on Rutgers, but this seems to be a chronic problem: the school lost its original 1766 Charter and had to get a new one issued in 1770, and was so clueless about its origins that it celebrated its centennial in 1870, apparently unaware of just when it started.)

Currently Reading: The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters Of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, And movies Have Shaped our Society, Changed Our Behavior, And Set The Course Of History, Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan, Jeremy Salter. And, wow, it's an amazingly twee book not nearly as funny as the authors think they're being.


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