Sunday, September 1, 2013

More September 11th Memories

So two years ago, I posted my memories from spending my second day of working at the White House being evacuated on 9/11 (here).  But so many other things happened around that time.

First of all, we all went back to work the day after 9/11 happened. But obviously nothing was ever the same and everyone was on heightened alert. I remember walking out of the building on 9/11 but I remember running out of the building two days later when there was a report of a potential car bomb on the street outside. (the funny thing is, I did take the time to grab my lunch before running for my life. Some people make sure others get to safety, I make sure my tuna fish sandwich isn't wasted....) But by then, everyone knew what had happened to our country so whenever something suspicious occurred, people overreacted just in case.

One precaution taken was that our office was moved to across the street. Apparently where our office was situated originally left it too vulnerable to the street so a week after I came in early and discovered planes were crashing into buildings, I came in early and found-

our office gone.

Yep, over the weekend it had been moved, yet NO ONE THINKS TO TELL THE ALREADY-SKITTISH INTERN! So I eventually find out where the office moved to, and then I spend part of that week helping hand-carry office furniture between the two places. Because that's what interns do. Whether at a dog grooming company or at the most powerful place in the world, you're gunna staple things and you're gunna pick things up.

Jumbos look like this http://www.pbs.org/programs/presidents-photographer/
And here's where I admit to something I probably shouldn't. So there are these giant photos termed "jumbos" all throughout the White House offices of different scenes throughout the presidency.  
And sometimes staff will take them for keepsakes at the end of the term. Well my fellow intern - also moving furniture - decides now would be a perfect time for us to grab one for ourselves since we were already moving things out of the building. Granted, it was not the end of a term and we hadn't asked anyone if we could take them but we figured - eh, staff do this, these aren't even great pictures and no one will miss them. And since the guards were already used to seeing us schlep things across the street, they didn't even bat an eye when we walked out carrying giant photographs.
Well my conscience quickly gets the best of me and I can't take it anymore. There is a jumbo, in my apartment, and I didn't ask permission! So I finally hang it up over my bed and snap of photo to remember it's existence - and I smuggle it back into the White House compound the next day. Clearly, I picked the right profession - that being anything but a thief. 
So we get all situated in our new office space and calm down from the second building evacuation for the false alarm (when, I might add, I passed a lady on her cell phone apparently telling someone that we were all scurrying around again for another emergency, and all I heard was "I gotta get some ICE CREAM I can't HANDLE this sh*@!" which became my second favorite random outburst on that sidewalk. The first being the man asking passerbys for money each day calling out to me down the street "oh here comes a pretty lady!" then when I got close enough to refuse to give him my cash, he spits out "of course not, you're too STUPID TO BE PRETTY!" Ah, D.C. life.)

But back to the office. So after 9/11, the false alarm evacuation, and all sorts of other alarms around the city, such as antrax letters etc. - our office gets yet another scare.

We get our own suspicious letter.

So now we're all back to being evacuated again. We pile out into the street (I did not grab office furniture or a sandwich to amuse myself this time so of course I was impatient for this to just be over with quickly) and we watch as a real-life robot goes back into our office and fetches the letter. I kid you not. I saw that little thing carry it out while we all stood at a safe distance. At that moment, I think a switch turned on in my head that said "you will never be shocked by anything else in your life again after this semester." And we watch the robot leave and we go back and continue our day.

More to come from those crazy weeks in my next post.

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