Thursday, October 28, 2004

Only in Washington

Tonight I had the quintessential Washingtonian evening in one of the conference room of the US house of representatives. The Committee on Science. A talk on future missions to investigate life in planets in and outside our solar system.
The room is really big with three large screens, displaying the presentations on each sides of the room. We are all facing the doors, sitting on plush chairs with microphones and paper pads in front of us. The pads are marked "Committee on Science. U.S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES" and I fight the urge to take one home. We're also facing eight imposing portraits of white middle aged guys all wearing dark suits, white shirts and red or blue ties, except for one in which a jovial, round and smiling man wearing a red sweater over the white shirt, is holding a book. Two of the portraits show men with rockets, the moon and the space shuttle in the background. I don't recognize any of these guys. They're probably all dead.
The talk goes on for about an hour and half. People in the audience are dozing. I am too when I hear "We have a planetary protection officer whose job it is to make sure that we are not contaminating other planets". The whole audience is laughing. Talk about big government...

I walk back from the building near the Capitol, enjoying the night and the unique view. The streets are closed to traffic for security reasons. I meet only police officers carrying large weapons and laughing. Later in the subway someone comes to sit behind me and I hear him asking "Are you getting off before Friendship heights?". The answer is hesitant. A young woman voice. "I think so. Tenleytown". "Yes, one stop before. Perfect, you'll wake me up." He goes on "I am so tired. I've been traveling all week. Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania". The set-up is perfect, the temptation irresistible. She can't help it but asking the question: "Are you working on the campaign?" His voice sounds bored when he answers "Well, I'm covering it. You know. The press. We are following the guys". I can't help but to think this is complete BS. If he is covering the campaign, what does he do in Washington 5 days before the elections? The woman next to him does not seem to mind. She seems just captivated by the thought. When I get out, they are rattling names of campaign stops. "Toledo, Des Moines, Pensacola,... "


Post a Comment

<< Home