The long way

“I believe in the free speech that liberals used to believe in,
the economic freedom that conservatives used to believe in,
and the personal freedom that America used to believe in.”

— Doug Mataconis, Below the Beltway blog

The building where I work was envisioned by its famous architect to have two reflecting pools alongside it. Therefore it features two rectangular cement depressions on its west side. In the nearly 30 years that I’ve been coming to this site, “envisioning” the pools is about all you’ve been able to do because when they are filled with water they leak prodigiously and incorrigibly, despite many efforts over the decades to correct the problem. The property managers ultimately gave it up as a lost cause and left them empty, despite my suggestion that they would make wonderful planters.

Earlier this year, however, the building was sold to new owners who have taken up this grail. As a result workmen have been milling around for the last several weeks, measuring and marking and ultimately tearing up sections of the bottom of the pools; the short, repeated bursts of jackhammers on cement sounding just like the staccato ripping of a German MG42 in the WWII Brothers in Arms xBox game I like to play in my spare time. In the game when you hear that sound you get down or you die and I involuntarily ducked my head a couple of inches the first time I heard that rat-a-tat as I approached my office a couple of weeks ago.

The larger pool runs the length of the building, while the smaller is to the north, separated by a 30 foot wide plaza that leads to the portico at the front of the building. The plaza provides the path for me to get into the building as I walk from the light rail stop. A couple of weeks ago a tall, chain-link construction fence formed a parenthetical bracket along the north end of the large pool to keep gawking civilians out of the work area; for our safety, of course. Personally, I would be able to control myself and my curiosity enough to stay clear, but you know you can’t trust the masses.

A day or two later a similar construction framed the south end of the smaller pool, creating a fenced path across the plaza, still about 30 feet wide. As construction has proceeded, however, the fences have been moved closer to each other as the plaza itself is bisected to lay a drain pipe. Last week we were down to an 8-foot-wide access across the plaza. Ugly, and a little inconvenient, but at least we could get through.

Today when I walked up the 8-foot access was gone and solid fencing extended all the way across the plaza. To get in I had to walk a quarter of a block around to the north and come up on the building from the other side while the chill November wind continued to abuse my ears. Tomorrow I’ll come via the Skyway route from the train, which means, ironically, I’ll actually take an underground tunnel for the last block to reach my objective.

It’s been getting colder for some time now; it could be a long winter.

“I’m working so my grandchildren will have the same freedoms
my grandfather enjoyed.”

–Rev. Dr. Tom Jestus

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