As I headed into Manhattan yesterday, I heard on the radio the dreaded words “the President is in town”. Not something I wanted to hear when I was planning on quickly driving in, speaking to a school group, leading a tour for friends, having lunch and getting back in time to teach ballet at 4pm. All was going very well until after lunch. As I drove out of the parking garage, I realized there was an added police presence. I looked around to make sure if everything seemed okay. At first it wasn’t “clicking” but then oh, right! the president is in Tribeca. I could tell the NYPD were starting to get ready for the commander-in-chief to be moving around every intersection had police vehicles, uniformed officers and blue barricades.
As I drove a little further north, the police were directing all south bound traffic off of West Street/12th Ave. They were definitely preparing for something. Then there were no more south bound traffic and motorcycles or random cars drove past me on the “other side going the same direction as me.” The police then started making every vehicle on my side turn right and off of West St/12th Ave but by the time I got to the front of the line they just made us stay where we were. The three blocks ahead of me were void of traffic and there were police vehicles across the road. The traffic lights kept cycling through green, yellow and red but we were not allowed to go. A few cars back, a few “clueless” people kept honking I wanted to jump out of my car and say “really”.
The police “boss” person stationed officers on each corner because even with the barricades New Yorkers still squeezed through and crossed the street. I put my car in park, rolled down the windows and waited. I heard a helicopter overhead, saw a few more motorcycles, I glanced in my side mirror to catch a glimpse of the motorcade but nothing was coming.
So, I started people watching. There was a person with what looked like a camp chair slung over his shoulder and suddenly I thought I hope that is really a chair as he started pulling out black pieces of piping. Looking in my rearview mirror, I realize there is a big white truck with three guys sitting in the front seat. As I am looking one guy jumps out. And then my imagination goes wild. I start thinking about recent headlines and the secret service not doing a perfect job but then I think don’t worry the NYPD will have it under control. I start thinking of every movie or television show where there has been an attempt on the President’s life. Now I am hyper vigilant and ready to throw myself under my dash-board if it goes bad. I am sure at any moment there are going to be explosions and gun fire. I am ready to put my hands up in the air and say I didn’t do anything. I am not even worried about being late to teach ballet. After about 5 minutes of a crazy imagined scene playing out in my head, the President’s motorcade finally goes wheezing by, little flags on front of the car waving, security people in vehicles looking scary but all is good and it was actually pretty cool.