20 January 2009

It's always hard to leave a good party.

I didn't know it, but the spot that I picked to watch the inauguration was right by one of the exit routes from the Mall. That was a very good thing, because after standing still for about an hour I was getting pretty cold. Once I got into the stream of people leaving, there was little choice about where to go. Not only was almost every route blocked off, but just the force of all of those people was enough to keep me going wherever they were going. I pulled out my map a couple of times to make sure I wasn't being carried in the wrong direction, but I was pretty sure that we were probably going the right way. I had it in my head earlier that I might be able to duck into a museum for the afternoon while all of the crowds dispersed from the Mall, but the friendly folks in camo wanted us all to stay together.

Once we got to the closest Metro station that was open, they had to keep us from flooding into the station. Earlier in the day a woman had fallen onto the tracks at one of the stations, and while she said she wasn't pushed, people don't usually stand that close to the edge unless there's nowhere else to stand. So the police and National Guard were being very cautious about crowd control. By now some people were starting to get grouchy, but only a few. The guy who appeared to be in charge here kept telling us two things: "If you have kids with you, keep them in front of you!" and "If you start pushing, I will have to shut this station down and you'll have to go somewhere else!" None of us wanted that.

Metro crowd control

Even with people pressing against me on all sides, I was starting to shiver. I was glad that I was not at the back of the crowd. I was on a train heading home about 45 minutes after I started leaving the Mall. The whole day was a phenomenal experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat and I'm glad I wasn't scared off by all of the dire warnings.

US Capitol

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