Gas, gas, gas!

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maxisback
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:34 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days later, Dawn of the Dead, Shawn of the Dead
Location: W WA

Gas, gas, gas!

Post by maxisback » Sun Dec 16, 2012 11:21 pm

If I'd known what I was getting into, I would have asked for more money. If the Agency had known, they probably would have paid it. But back to the beginning. This is where things get all misty and wiggly looking....

It was November of 1999. I had been laid off from my job as a Private Detective doing death investigations for insurance companies. I figured investigating how people died was the ultimate in job security.

Wrong again.

So there I was, unemployed, anticipating the Y2K bug. My wife suggested temp agencies, so I did the rounds. While I was at one of the better known agencies, one of the managers asked if I would like to interview for a job right away. Stave off hunger and homelessness? Sure.

I found myself in front of three suits, answering questions about my experience and training. Having worked at a major aircraft maker dealing with foreign airline reps gave me an edge, I think. They were from the World Trade Organization. The cute blond with the upper crust British accent asked what I knew of the WTO. I told her I felt it was an organization that ensured a level playing field for the world's businesses. Seemingly satisfied with that, she let the accountant-looking older man beside her continue. He asked if I knew about any security issues regarding the WTO. I admitted I knew of none, but any large world organization was going to have it's share of dissenters. He nodded his head sagely and we soon concluded.

Long story short, I was hired. They had me helping in the office issuing cell phones to the delegates as they arrived. For the first day (Friday) I worked with a WTO manager, but after that I was solo with local volunteers helping under my direction. Soon after that, I was contacted by the cell service supplier and given all the codes needed to activate the phones myself. Life was good. I would check the delegates off my list as they arrived, activate their phones, and send them off with a smile. That was the first weekend.

Monday things came unglued.

The Metro bus I was in couldn't get NEAR the Washington Convention Center where the WTO meetings were taking place. So I got out six blocks away and started walking. Every street toward the convention center was blocked by police and state patrol. I couldn't get closer than a block. Working my way around the ring of steel, I saw protesters sitting on the sidewalks, blocking delegates from getting in. Seeing my ID badge, the shout "delegate!" lead my walk up the street, which was devoid of cars and busses. It was like a scene out of Mad Max - the end of civilization. Then I remembered my days as a delivery driver. There was a pedestrian causeway to the convention center from across the street at 2 Union Square, an office building. I headed that way.

So I'm walking up 7th Avenue, my gym bag in my hand, Riot Police on one side, screaming protesters on the other, looking for a way around both. I'm a little goal oriented. The walkway from 2 Union Square was blocked by two cops, who wouldn't even let me through with my ID badge. Walking away, I saw my chance. A conga line of WTO delegates was being lead toward the convention center by an obviously-working-for-the-government woman. I joined the line. We were led to a gap in the police line, held up our badges, and I was in and at work. Only an hour late.

Leaving that night started to look like just as great an adventure. All doors leading out were blocked and guarded. Secret Service Agents, Cops, State Troopers- all were in abundance. I was told at each exit that the building was in lockdown. Great. None of the concessions stands had been open, so no lunch for me, and now no way home. Then I remembered the parking garage. There was a bridge across the street to that, and a back stair to the Metro bus tunnel. I was on my way home.

Work on Tuesday was easier to get to. My badge got me through multiple layers of security and cops, and I even made it on time. Lunch however, was a problem. I forgot mine at home. So that was how I ended up on the street, Tuesday, during the height of the WTO riots. Crossing 7th, I went through the Sheraton Hotel parking lot and crossed 6th. Lots of shouting and noise in the distance. No sweat. Walking into the lobby of City Centre, I found no shops open. Bad sign. Walking through there to 5th, I stepped out.

Right into a scene from downtown Beirut. I really didn't realize how good the soundproof windows at City Centre are. One moment it was quiet and people are jogging up and down the street outside, the next I step out and stun grenades are going off everywhere. Cops with paintball guns are marking people, streamers of tear gas are flying through the air from launched grenades. Windows are shattering as shabbily dressed teenage boys and girls are throwing newspaper vending machines through them. It was like my last training exercise at an urban combat village. Obviously I wasn't going to find lunch there. Turning around, I discovered that the door had locked behind me. Great. So I had to walk around the outside of the building, the riot in progress around me. Nobody bothered me. Maybe missing lunch pissed me off enough that they all kept their distance. I don't know. Just before I arrived back at the Convention Center, the wind shifted. A cloud of noxious, stinging tear gas came wafting down the street and reminded me of the gas chamber at Ft Knox, Kentucky, all those years ago. Yayy.

The rest of the week was something of an anti-climax. Order was restored, security began to function smoothly, and my job got easier. Despite obstacles, I had found a way to do what I needed to do. No matter how bad things get, there's always a way, in my book.

I just realized it's been 13 years since, but some images are just ingrained in my mind. The giant spaghetti-looking float being dragged down the street by protesters. A line of cops in riot gear facing a line of protesters. The naked woman on a balcony looking down on it all with a smile. The Secret Service Senior Agent telling his agents "This is it. We're locked down. This is the Alamo." One of his female agents had so much gear on her waist I couldn't see her belt. Watching a reporter from French Channel 2 broadcasting live from the Atrium level while a cloud of tear gas drifted across the street outside. Running into some old buddies from my old National Guard Unit, now on riot duty in downtown Seattle. They wanted to know where the nearest latrine was.

What a way to earn a living...
Who Dares, Wins

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showpare
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Posts: 122
Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:50 pm
Location: Michigan

Re: Gas, gas, gas!

Post by showpare » Mon Dec 17, 2012 7:52 am

One thing is for sure: you are not a quitter. Kudos for changing plans and changing course with a goal in mind. Some days you do what you gotta do.
Somethinga Ina Latinus Goesa Herea

maxisback
Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2012 11:34 pm
Favorite Zombie Movies: 28 Days later, Dawn of the Dead, Shawn of the Dead
Location: W WA

Re: Gas, gas, gas!

Post by maxisback » Wed Dec 26, 2012 3:04 am

Thanks. Like I said, goal oriented....

Quite frankly, if I'd known what the WTO was really about, I wouldn't have taken the job at all....
Who Dares, Wins

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