July 4th Prep, Sunday, July 3, 2016

I was giving a friend and her family a tour of a few sites on Sunday, so before and after I spent time with the NPS Logistics crew again.  It was day 4 of setup for me.  The day started slowly in terms of visitors, because it was rainy early in the morning, but it cleared up by 8:30 AM and then people were out in full force.  

When I arrived and retrieved my golf cart, I noticed there had been an addition.

BB-8 Cart

I have a copilot!  Ranger Stacy Shannon is seriously awesome, and she gave me the coolest cart on the National Mall!

The visitors, sadly, were not all seriously awesome.

*Riding in the pickup truck, stopping along the way to deliver things to various places*
Woman (who we observed parking on Ohio Drive, getting out of her car, and staring at the parking signs):  That sign says handicapped, does that mean this is handicapped parking?
Ranger:  Yes, that is exactly what it means.
We then watched as the woman got in her car and drove away.

*Sitting in the golf cart in between delivering power cords to access tents*
Man:  Why are there 4000 porta potties here and they are all locked?
Ranger:  Because you are not here tomorrow.  They are for the 4th.
Man:  Well, where does someone go to the bathroom around here?
Ranger:  Right across the street, that white stone building there.
Man:  That’s a bathroom?
Ranger:  It’s a bookstore and a bathroom.
*We drove off*
Ranger:  You have to put that one on Facebook.
Me:  Oh, it’s going in my blog…
Ranger:  And you have to put the handicapped woman in there too.  You should write these down.
Me:  They’re all in my head. :o)

*Riding in the golf cart past a family, both parents holding maps and looking confused*
Woman:  Where is the Air & Space Museum?
Ranger:  Turn around, make a right at this corner, and walk up the Mall.  After you pass the castle it will be on your right in a few more blocks.
Woman:  But isn’t it on Independence Avenue?
Me:  It is, but there is also an entrance on Jefferson Drive.
Woman:  So, just go up here?
Ranger:  Yes.
*Family walks off*
Me:  Sorry for cutting in there.
Ranger:  I don’t care, but I think you confused her more.
Me:  I have that way about me.

We also spent a lot of time watching visitors go crazy when they saw a golf cart coming towards them.  It’s kind of amazing.  People, no matter where they seem to be from, don’t know what to do when a cart comes their way.  It’s simple.  Step to one side, and we will proceed slowly past you.  Preferably, we will each go to our right, but if you choose left we will work with that.

But there are some visitors who are like a deer caught in the headlights.  They stop, stare, step left, step right, step left again, and generally look confused.  We have to stop and wait for them to decide what they are going to do next.  My personal favorites are the families with little kids.  Instead of taking the small child by the hand, they allow them to decide where to go.  Then they panic when the little one ends up on the other side of the cart as I pass by.

However, even more puzzling are the people who must be able to hear us coming up behind them, but don’t make any effort to move out of our way.  We aren’t allowed to blow the horns on the carts, because they are super obnoxious, so we then have to putter along behind them at the speed of a snail until we get to a spot where we can pass them.

So, my advice to all of you… if you are walking along the Mall and you see or hear a golf cart coming your way, step to the right.  We will take care of the rest.  And, please, take your small children by the hand.  Or, even better, pick them up.  It’ll be safer for all of us.

So, tomorrow is the 4th, and as I write this, I have 7 hours and 14 minutes until my alarm goes off.  I’m not very sleepy yet, but it’s time to relax and watch some TV until I fall asleep.  Have a Happy 4th everyone, and stay tuned for what are sure to be some amazing stories of my day on the National Mall tomorrow!

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