Where were we during the Cherry Blossom Parade?
8 weeks ago: The kids complain, again, that we haven't gone "anyplace for vacation" in years. (Apparently camping trips with the telescope do not count.) SWHTL and I decide we should go to DC instead of, say, Disneyworld because it's in driving distance, we used to live there, we liked the museums and it would be ejumakashunal which would be good for larning the chillens. We decide to go while the kids are off school for Easter which, oddly, we don't realize is the same as "spring break." The kids actually get really excited about going.
Despite choosing a what we thought was a cleverly designed gap in everyone's schedules this immediately causes conflicts with everything from the Masons and Clowns to SWHTL's new part time job. Schedules are massaged. Being a geek, I am told I am perfect to help with incredibly important electrical repair jobs at the church, scheduled for the morning of the day we're supposed to drive to DC. No biggie, we didn't plan on getting there until the evening of the first day anyway, right? Just do a bit of soldering, change some light bulbs, berate the people who originally wired the church in nineteen ought whatever and drive on!
4 weeks before departure: turns out one of the clown teams I work with is in the Cherry Blossom parade. Great! Except the parade will be at the same time as the incredible important repair job. Whoops. Guess I won't be going, seeing how pushing the departure time back wouldn't work with anyone else's already mangled schedule anyway.
1 week before departure: Boss schedules important all hands meeting for during my vacation. Won't tell me what it's about.
Day of departure: Wearing my casually nice clothes I show up for unspecified incredibly important electrical repair jobs. Head of trustees explains that the list of jobs has changed and leads us up to the top of the church, out an access hole, in through a crawl space window into what could, charitably, be called a crawl space. It has no floor, but it has lots of fiberglass insulation. Someone needs to lower, by hand, each and every light fixture to the floor of the sanctuary to be checked, repaired and upgraded with florescent bulbs. Candidates for this task include:
- the 6'4" dude who struggled just getting through the window.
- the 70+ year old dude who had to be helped up through the access hole.
- my 13 year old son.
I swear, I'm going to have dreams about this job. Just the atmosphere of being in this space, the risks of manually attaching the winch, unhooking the chandelier, cranking down while trying to hear the faint cries of "OMFG! STOP!" (and I did almost lose one, it got hooked on a piece of ceiling and unhooked from the winch, but I was able to get the winch hook back on it before it fell.) The fiberglass dust was worse than I expected; they had to send me up a dust mask by attaching it to a fixture - but most of all, scrambling from beam to beam surrounded by 100 year old wood, 50 year old electrical wiring and 20 year old HVAC duct work was just... funky.
It was also filthy. I mentioned the mask. That was my first clue that the place was worse than I realized. As I squatted, crouched, leaned and contorted, things kept falling out of my jacket pockets - like my phone - and my glasses fell off my face into the insulation, and so on and so forth.
By the time I came down, I looked like a coal miner, so we had to go back home so I could wash and change and my amazingly dirty and fiberglassy clothes could be bagged and tagged for later
destruction washing. It was at this point, I discovered the fall into the fiberglass actually scratched up the lenses of my glasses. I have optical coverage, but not for a second pair in the same year. Sigh.
So, anyway, that's what I was doing instead of having my clown makeup wash off my face by parading in the rain down in DC.
I'm still not sure exactly what these guys were actually protesting. The idea that we should enforce our borders? The idea that all men have a right to risk death in the desert in order to be treated like slave labor for bad wages in unsafe conditions?
Somehow the idea that there is a human right to be screwed over by corrupt employers just eludes me.
But, be that as it may, we caught the very edges of the protest in DC and I was impressed lots of people who obviously came from south of the border, tromping down to the mall holding American flags of various sizes. I didn't see a single Mexican flag or "whitey go home" sign, such as those reported at other protests. They might have been there, but I didn't see them. We didn't go down into the protest, despite my curiousity because, frankly, having experienced DC protests back in the 80s I had no desire to get my family into a fight because we didn't fit the target demographic.
But what about X, Y or Z?
Frankly, we didn't stay long enough. We originally planned to see a ton of stuff we didn't get to, despite staying in a hotel that was practically across the street from Union Station. Each museum took up 3-4 hours which meant we didn't even get to all the museums we had wanted to see. The lines to get into everything was a shock, since we didn't remember ever having lines when we lived there - apparently the security at the entrances really slows things down. We didn't get into the Capitol or the Washington Monument because I couldn't get SWHTL or the kids (especially the kids) out of bed early enough to get the free tickets. We didn't get to Mt. Vernon because by the 3rd day we starting applying triage and the museums won out over driving anyplace we didn't have to - driving in DC is nobody's idea of vacation.
What can I say? We'll just have to go back next year.
The all hands meeting was rescheduled for this Friday because of too many vacations. As I write this, I can't find a single bad thing that happened while I was gone. Very suspicious.
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