The Prime Minister of Israel was in town this week to meet with President Obama. From what I could tell, he was staying at the Mayflower, not far from my office. I say this because there were motorcades and security crawling all over the area for several days. Seeing these motorcades swarming as I was walking home from work reminded me of another motorcade from years ago.
My friend, the Australian Adventurer, was in town for a visit. It was a warm spring day, and we were heading down Connecticut Avenue to dinner. We arrived at the intersection of Florida and Connecticut and were stopped by police in the street. A typical Washington occurrance, traffic had been halted to permit a passing motorcade. Police on foot, on motorcycles, and in cars lined the streets. So we waited on the corner until after the motorcaded had gone by and it was clear for us to pass.
One woman who was also waiting with us decided that she'd had enough waiting and ventured out into the intersection to cross the street. The officer standing there waved her back onto the curb to continue waiting. We all stood there waiting for a few more minutes when the same lady decided, again, that she was through waiting. Off she went trying to cross the street in the other direction this time. Again, the officer waved her back to the curb, as he said, "Ma'am, please!" So we waited, still no sign of the motorcade.
Some more time passed and the Hardheaded Woman decided that she was crossing that street come hell or highwater. Only the police officer had other plans. He stepped in front of her and said, "Ma'am get back on the curb!" Then he pointed up and said, "There are snipers on the top of those buildings. And they will Take. You. Out! Get on the curb now! And do not attempt to cross again."
I glanced over at my friend. AA was standing, mouth wide open, looking up at the snipers (which, to be fair, none of us could see). Neither of us could believe what we had heard, and giggled awkwardly, like a couple of elementary school children who had just watched a friend get scolded in class. But that was nothing compared to HW. She seemed particularly jarred, and stood unmoving on the curb. Needless to say, she didn't try to cross the street again.
The motorcade finally came and went (and was fairly anticlimactic after the threat of a sniper shooting in broad daylight Dupont Circle), and we were on our way to dinner. And almost ten years later, AA still recalls with glee that "the Secret Service doesn't mess around."
Interestingly enough, though, I still have yet to see those rooftop snipers that we were warned about. In fact, I'm not even sure there actually were any snipers, but I guess, kind of like God, it's just enough to know they're up there looking down on us all.