While Kate is wandering the literary world with her faithful border collie sniffing out the trail of potential agents, I am bringing you a new blog series. “A Seemingly Random and Borderline Chaotic Life” will feature my observations on persons, places and things, psychology, current events, and real-life experiences, such as accidentally galloping through a Kenyan valley on a horse from Hades.
If you have a specific topic you’d like to appear here, send me your suggestion email@example.com. In the spirit of The Obsidian Staff’s good man of questionable background, Jyls, many of these insights are farcical yet could also be true. You decide…
Our very first topic: FEAR and INEPT EVILDOERS (see below).
Short introduction on fear. A word with four letters describing an intangible, pervasive yet evasive emotion of perceived pain, helplessness and many other unpleasant things.
Although I like the word “fear” for its rhyming potential, I believe it has less power if we called it something else. If you rearrange the letters in fear, you get “arfe” (which is ye olde spelling of “arf”, the sound a dog makes).
To revise today’s topic: ARFE.
I don’t have enough space to write about the whole kit and caboodle of fears so I will only discuss one of the largest arfes our world faces: security. Recent times have been tumultuous and terrifying, and news broadcasts do not reassure us that this will get better.
BUT. We need NOT arfe! Because we have the most powerful of protectors: transportation.
Let’s look at the proof. The below scenarios were written based on my knowledge of the D.C. metro area, though these “lines of defense” as I will refer to them can be found in cities nationwide. Our featured characters in these scenarios are “Inept Evildoer 1” and his companion, “Inept Evildoer 2” (because let’s face it, most evildoers are not very bright.)
"INEPT EVIDOERS" - A FIVE MINUTE PLAY
Washington’s First Line of Defense: Traffic.
(8:00 AM: Inept Evildoer 1 and Inept Evildoer 2 arrive at Dulles International Airport, rent a car, and have started driving down the I-66 corridor.)
I.E. 1: Why aren’t we moving? Is there an accident? Look out the window. Can you see an accident?
I.E. 2 (glancing out the window): I don’t see anything. You know this highway is bad in the morning. It’s rush hour.
I.E. 1 (disgruntled): There is no highway anywhere in the world with this much traffic. Impossible. It has to be an accident. Look again. I’m sure there’s an accident.
I.E. 2 (Rolls down the window. Cranes his neck outside.): I still don’t see anything.
(I.E. 2 Leans back inside the car and rolls up the window. Looks at the GPS. It’s red. On the display is “No traffic: 20 minutes” followed by “Estimated travel time: 1 hour 42 minutes.”)
I.E. 1 (clutching the steering wheel tightly): We aren’t moving. Don’t they have officials who are supposed to take care of this? I am going to write a strongly-worded letter to the governor. This is unacceptable.
I.E 2 (ignoring I.E. 1 as he fishes a cd from his bag.) Then it’s a good thing I brought… (He waves it in front of I.E 1.) Lemonade!
I.E. 1 (lighting up as he glances over): I love that cd.
I.E. 2 (nodding in agreement): Beyoncé’s the best.
I.E. 1: Ooo, ooo, play “Sandcastles”…
Washington’s Second Line of Defense: U.S. Units of Measurement
(9:45 AM: I.E. 1 and 2 have finally exited I-66 and are driving into the city).
I.E. 2 (consulting the GPS): It says ‘two and a half miles until Pennsylvania Avenue”. How much is “two and a half miles”?
I.E. 1 (without hesitation): Well, one mile is 1.609 kilometers, which is 1,609 meters, which is 1759 yards, which is 5,277 feet, which is 63,324 inches, which is two and a half miles… what was the question again?
(Five minutes later)
I.E. 2: Are you texting?
I.E. 1 (throwing the phone in the back seat): Texting? No. I wasn’t texting.
I.E. 2: Don’t you know that’s dangerous?
I.E. 1: I wasn’t texting.
I.E. 2: I saw you texting!
I.E. 1: I was looking at Google Maps!
Washington’s Third Line of Defense: Traffic Circles
(10:30 AM: I.E. 1 and 2 have accidentally arrived at Dupont Circle.)
I.E. 2 (consulting the GPS again): It says we have to enter the circle.
I.E. 1 (looking around at the cars whizzing past): How? There are too many cars.
I.E. 2: Just drive in.
I.E. 1: They’ll hit me.
I.E. 2: No they won’t. Just drive forward.
I.E. 1: Did you buy the insurance at the rental agency this morning?
I.E. 2: I’m not paying $50 for insurance. It's a scam.
I.E. 1: I’m not going to pay for damage to this car.
I.E. 2: Pretend you’re a New Yorker. Have you ever seen how they drive? So aggressive. Fearless. Be a New Yorker.
I.E. 1 (shaking his head vigorously): Look at all of those blue plates! Even if they hit us, they have, what’s it called? “Diplomatic immunity”?
I.E. 2 (peering out the window): Oh. I didn’t see those. Diplomats are the worst. I met one once. Scared the bejesus out of me.
(Twenty minutes later, I.E. 1 successfully enters the traffic circle.)
I.E. 2 (consulting the GPS again): It says take the second exit.
I.E. 1: Which one’s the second exit?
I.E. 2: I don’t know. That one? (As the car turns toward the exit, GPS begins to say “recalculating”.) No no no, wait, stop, stay here. We passed it. Go around again.
(Thirty minutes later…)
I.E. 1 (sweat beading on his forehead): We’re trapped! There’s no exit! Great mother of Fiats!
I.E. 2 (waving frantically): Quick, get out here.
I.E. 1: Is this the exit?
I.E. 2: I don’t know, just get out!
(I.E. 1 jerks the wheel to the right. He suddenly slams on the breaks. The car screeches to a halt.)
I.E. 2 (eyes wide): What was that?
(I.E. 1 looks outside. A woman walking a poodle is glaring at them as she crosses the road.)
I.E. 1: Pedestrians…
Washington’s Fourth Line of Defense: Parking Meters
(12:00 PM: I.E. 1 and 2 escape the dreaded traffic circle and park near the Farragut North metro station. Climbing out of the vehicle, I.E. 1 walks to the meter as I.E. 2 approaches the large green and white signs on the curb.)
I.E. 1 (reading the words on the meter aloud): “2 hour parking, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM.” (Frowns.) There’s a red light blinking. Why is there a red light?
I.E. 2 (still looking at the street sign): This says “2 hour parking. Restrictions apply daily. 8:00 AM – 2:00 AM. Sunday 11:00 AM – Monday 2:00 AM Holders of District 2 residential permits exempt. $40 fine.”
I.E. 1 (squinting more closely at the words on the meter): There’s nothing here about residential permits. But there’s something about “Parking prohibited Tuesdays, 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM and Thursdays, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM. (Glancing back at I.E. 1): What day is it?
I.E. 1: Wednesday I think. And it’s (Checks his watch.) 12:15.
(Both I.E. 1 and 2 look at the street sign. Then back at the meter. I.E. 2 shrugs.)
I.E. 2: Let’s just put some quarters in. We have dastardly deeds to do. And I’m hungry.
I.E. 1 (Looking guiltily at I.E. 2.): I didn’t bring any.
I.E. 2 (smacking his head with his palm): I told you to exchange bills at the airport!
I.E. 1 (Digging through his pockets. Hears jingling. Pulls out coins): Wait, I have dimes! (Puts dimes into the meter. The time stays at zero minutes. I.E. 1 and 2 wait. The light continues to blink red. I.E. 1 smacks the meter. No change.)
I.E. 2 (grumpily): Fine. We’ll leave the car somewhere else and take the metro.
Washington’s Fifth Line of Defense: The Metro
(12:45 PM: I.E. 1 and 2 are standing on the platform at Woodley Park/Zoo waiting for the train. Passengers stay uncomfortably pressed against each other, shuffling to keep their places.)
A recorded message comes through the loudspeaker: Dear Metro Riders. Due to a power outage at the Friendship Heights metro station, trains are single tracking between Shady Grove and Glenmont. Please expect residual delays. We apologize for any inconvenience.
(I.E. 1 and I.E. 2 glance simultaneously at the sign with estimated train arrival times. It displays, “Glenmont: 35 minutes”.)
I.E. 1: I'm claustrophobic.
I.E. 2: I don't like crowds.
I.E. 1: I want to go home.
(14:00 PM: I.E. 1 and 2 are back in Dulles International Airport, having returned their rental car. Each is holding a carry-on bag, looking haggard. An airline employee picks up the intercom.)
Airline employee (cheerfully): Good afternoon, United passengers! We are ready to start boarding Flight 1234 toward Watertown, South Dakota. We will start our priority boarding with our United premium gold members.
(A pair of passengers comes forward. The airline employee scans their tickets. They walk through the door.)
Airline employee: Thank you. Next we invite our United premium bronze members.
(A handful of individuals walk forward. Tickets scanned, they proceed onward.)
Airline employee: Thank you. Now we invite individuals in business class to board.
(Men and women in suits come forward. Tickets scanned, they proceed onward.)
Airline employee: Thank you. Now we invite all families traveling with small children or those who need special assistance.
(A mother with a baby and two toddlers muscle past I.E. 1 and 2. They move back in surprise as an elderly man is wheeled forward next to them. One of the wheels runs over I.E. 1’s foot. He yelps and jumps back. The elderly man gives him a sharp look. The mother and man proceed onward.)
Airline employee: Thank you. Next we welcome all of our passengers who are left-handed to board the plane. Left-handed only, please.
(Several people rise from their seats. They follow the stairway to the gate.)
Airline employee: Thank you. Now if you have ever owned a dog named “Spot” or a turtle named “Captain Nemo”, please come forward to board.
(More individuals come up and disappear down the plank.)
Airline employee: Thank you. Finally, we would like to invite all of you who were born under the zodiac sign Leo or Capricorn to come forward. Leos and Capricorns.
(The remaining passengers move forward. As they disappear through the door, I.E. 1 and 2 glance around. There is no one else in the area except for them. They shuffle forward awkwardly to the desk where the airline employee is now looking through her papers.)
I.E. 1 (pulling out his ticket): Ah, excuse me, we still need to board.
Airline employee (looking up surprised): Oh, I’m so sorry! The flight is completely booked. (She gives a chipper smile.) I can put you on the waiting list. In case someone on board wants to disembark and stay here… for some reason… though that’s never happened…
I.E. 1 (looking at I.E. 2): I need a vacation.
Stay tuned for the next installment of “A Seemingly Random and Borderline Chaotic Life”!