Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Peaceful Transition - Part I

Back home, exhausted and elated. I hope I can capture how much magic I just witnessed.

Woke at 3 a.m. on Tuesday for what would normally be a 35 minute ride to the train station from my sister's house. After a nearly 4 hour ride (stopping more than riding), we were boarding the Metro for the commute from Vienna, VA into DC. The radio station was providing moment to moment updates on the status of the trains and parking lots and reported over 100,000 riders had been picked up by 6 a.m. Along the route, we met with so many different people, all sharing where they were from and how excited they were to be making this trip for this day. Despite the traffic and crowded train, all were cooperative and friendly. I got to chat with a man from Sacramento who was carrying a tuxedo - I had to ask - and he shared, almost sheepishly, that he would be attending a gala - and just grinned from ear to ear, as though he couldn't believe it himself. At each stop, there would be a discussion about how full the train was and how no more could fit, yet every time the door opened, we all welcomed some new riders and pulled them in - there was always room for more.

Along the way we were hearing that different stations were closing, then opening, in an effort to control the crowding so we were never sure until the last moment of where we would get off. Ultimately we were able to get off at the stop where my ticket instructed me and here's where it started to get a little weird. I had a silver ticket and got into the silver ticket line, which was actually a huge gathering of people, taking up about a city block. Ahead we could see a big structure that said it was the silver gate and the crowd moved steadily forward. Pretty soon, though, we started hearing that the gate was closed and no more people would be allowed in, despite the fact they all had tickets (I'm talking about a huge number of people) - some turned around and started looking for other places to watch. I decided to break ranks and walk up to the front (it was unbelievable that this was a completely unstructured line with no barriers or adult supervision, yet everyone stayed orderly and cooperative - even when it started to look like things weren't going as they should). I navigated my way to the gate, learned that it was true - no more people would be admitted - and the people in the line started waving their tickets and chanting "let us in, let us in". Moments later, the crowd moved forward a little, then a little bit more and pretty soon we found ourselves on the mall, in the open space we were supposed to be in anyway, but without the hassle of a security gate. Power to the people!
A really lot of people...

I'll have to finish the story tomorrow - I don't want this post to get really long and boring and, honestly, I'm really tired... More to come, I Promise.

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