Monday, July 27, 2009


Except in and around Washington, D.C.

R. and I find this is sooooooooo true when we’re on the road again to our nation’s capitol (via Arlington, Virginia). AND, this lack of signage AND/OR size of signs almost gets me thrown in the slammer (you think I’m kidding – I’m not). Let me explain. . .

Oh, but I have to tell you about our visit to the Arlington National Cemetery first.

Hallowed ground, the sign reads! Silence surrounds us as we walk among the white grave markers. Row after perfectly aligned row blankets the landscape and it’s so much bigger than I thought it would be. Again, I say “thank you” to the countless men and women who sacrificed their all for our freedom.

Next, R. and I go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to watch the changing of the guard ceremony. Even though we read about it before we made the trip, it’s amazing to see. Unbelievable what these soldiers must go through to get one of the prestigious positions. To read more - go to


As we leave the cemetery in search of our next destination – the Pentagon Memorial - the signage problem starts to rear its ugly head (refer to first paragraph above). Try as we might, we can’t find the highway to take us to the 9-11 memorial, but we do locate (and take) the one leading us back to Herndon.
R. doesn’t let this little detour dissuade him. He turns around and we get on the road again and locate a honking sign announcing the Pentagon exit, which is a half mile in front of us. Praise the Lord, we’re almost there.

NOT SO FAST! What do my eyes behold but a teeny tiny sign telling unsuspecting tourists that the exit we’re about to pass is the one we want. I shout and point and POOF! Mario Andretti replaces R. in the driver’s seat (or so it seems). Somehow hubby’s able to maneuver the Hyundai down the ramp in time with no mishaps recorded.

Unfortunately, those are about to surface when we try to park at the Pentagon. Every sign in the large lot indicates that only cars with specific stickers can park there. Since we see others parking there, R. and I reason it’s o-ke-do-kie to do the same.

I get out of the car and decide it’s time to take a picture. But before I do that, please repeat this phrase after me – “For lack of knowledge, people perish.”

One minute I’m posed to take a photo of the Pentagon and the next thing I know two cops are vying for MY full attention. People, I’m torn as to which one of them to go to. Do I go to the one on my left who’s just jumped out of his car and is waving his arms at me? OR do I go to the one in front of me who is sitting in his patrol car with his index finger out his window motioning me to come on over?

Logic tells me I better do something before one of them decides to shoot me for evading arrest. With my heart a pounding, I look over to Officer #1 and point at Officer #2 and shout, “He wants to see me, too.”

It’s obvious by Officer #1’s expression he doesn’t know what I’m trying to say. Also, I realize he doesn't see Officer #2 and the fact he too is beckoning me. I repeat myself and point with more enthusiasm at Officer #2. Finally Officer #1 understands and turns and goes back to his patrol car. I can once again breathe.

We head over to Officer #2’s vehicle and before I can ask what all the fuss is about, the man says, “Put the camera away. It’s against the law to take pictures of the Pentagon.”

As quick as I can, I stuff my camera deep into my Capri pocket. “Sir, I’m so sorry. I didn’t see any signs.”

It’s obvious my answer isn’t the one he wants because the young man’s bald head begins to turn a pinkish color. Seems he’s struggling with what to say next. He takes a couple of breaths and with all the calm he can muster, he blurts out, "there are SIGNS posted everywhere stating that the taking of photographs is illegal.”

Before a sassy retort falls out of my mouth (like - where are they), R. jumps in and informs the policeman of the signage woes we’ve already experienced today. The officer seems to agree with our assessment and says so.

I’m thinking that we're getting somewhere and we’re almost done with this discussion. I really want to move on to see the memorial.

NOT SO FAST – R. isn’t finished. He adds, “And we aren’t supposed to park here, are we.” He point to our little car in the almost empty lot.

“No. You need to follow the signs to park at the mall. Turn on Red, White and blah, blah, blah…”

ALL I WANT TO DO IS SEE THE MEMORIAL! Please, don't tell me we have to find another SIGN!

I wait patiently as the officer finishes his directions, and then I thank him for his help. R. and I walk to the car and together we decide it’s time to move on. Today isn’t the day to see the Pentagon Memorial – maybe next trip.

R. finds his way out of the parking lot and is on the road again and I’m happy to report we locate our next stop - Capitol City Brewing Company – without any more incidents. And, I think you’ll agree I’ve had one too many of those already. People, it's not every day I’m in the middle of a stand-off and almost get thrown in jail.

Now you know why I’m a writer.

Love ya,


Janice Thompson said...

Janetta, you made me laugh so hard! But, I miss you! When are you coming HOME?

kafar said...

Made me think of my latest endeavor in New Orleans. It seems that my son and daughter-in-law were breaking up. He feigned a suicide attempt, or really did try, but he took ten shots of whiskey along with the 15 pills, which made him throw them up undigested. She had already left. He was in the hospital. After a few days, they moved him to a psych ward. He was talking to her trying to work things out by phone, and she seemed a bit upset I was staying there, and might take his things. I hadn't planned to do so, but started wondering if she was planning on returning to take everything, while he couldn't stop her. He and his officer had spoken in my presence of what he mighit take with him back to the barracks when he would be under supervision for a couple of weeks. New plasma tv, games, all the gadgets, etc. She could take these and pawn them, and he'd have nothing.
So I packed things up into garbage bags, duffle bags and gently took them out to his car, waving to a military security guy who passed. Slunk out of there, taking his dog with me, and his car to Houston.(I would have had no recourse legally to stop her taking any of his stuff if I had stayed there as planned.)And the next day was not a visiting day. Went to Houston, got his car fixed, while my husband freaked out demanding I return his stuff. I did not really want to take a chance on going back, as I had never been arrested and did not want to start. I stayed away from the base as long as I could. His stuff was in his car and had not entered my dwelling. When I finally went back there, on the 3rd, with a pass that was to end the next day, I should have gone on through. But I asked about a replacement since I'd be without one for the next day. Stopped and waited. The first guy said oh, if its his car and has the sticker on it, you don't need the pass. Then the other guy said no we can't give you another pass if he isn't with you. Or you cannot reach his superior, or if his wife won't come vouch for you. Well, I wouldn't have been there if she was, as none of it would have happened. And the guy had started his holiday and wasn't answering the phone, so as not to interrupt it. Ok, I thought I'll just go get his change of clothes he's asked for, and won't plan on staying there tomorrow or the next few days. So I went through. Next thing I know there's a cop waiving me over. What were you thinking, he just told you you couldn't come in. Well, the pass I have is through tonight. Not if he's not with you. Well, he's in the hospital. Boldly I asked if he'd come with me to get the clothes, which he refused, and said to return to the entrance. Probably a good thing, as the tv cords and all were exposed, and it was obvious to anyone entering that someone had moved the stuff. While I had wanted to spend the fourth at the base, for patriotic reasons, the jail was not where I had envisioned it. I ended up returning to where my son was and sleeping in the car sitting in an office park-where some delivery trucks were also parked. So an extra car wasn't noticeable. (They had a festival that weekend which had overbooked the motels, and raised the rates.)The second night I was going to get a room, but ran over a glass bottle that I'd thought was a plastic sprite one. So I did not want to drive as far as was necessary to get to a good one. The lady at the convenience store said it was a safe area. She's the one who told me that the rates were up, and that one hotel had had to be moved because of a murder. So there I was. But the Lord protected me, providing every thing I needed. Airconditioning, stores-a K mart that opened at 7am, a McD's that had a tv, and a movie theater. Anyway, I explained that I had packed the things he'd mentioned that he wanted, minus some of the cords, and they were in the trunk. After he got out, they got back together. But I still have his doggie for now.

kafar said...

Probably should have kept my mouth shut too. When I got the first pass, the guard snidely asked if the sergeant, a black man, was my son-in-law. He was black too, and apparently just wanted to insult me. I did not give him the shocked "oh no" reaction he wanted. Merely saying "No, he's the sergeant." So when I returned a few days later, there he was again. As I was about to drive through, I asked him if he wasn't the same person, and he said yes. "Well," I told him, "my son-in-law is a Moroccan Muslim." Then I drove through. It should have told him I wasn't a bigot, but the next thing I knew.... Loved all the sweating out in the car when there was a bed I was supposed to be in. (Did have a box of wipes to freshen up with, and turned the air on sometimes too.)

Cathy Brown said...

Great 'sign' story... I really enjoyed it. You are also an amazing writer. I was spellbound and being ADHD that is amazing. blessings to you,

dwanreed said...

Janetta, I'm glad you and Ray were polite to the police and didn't end up in a Henry Louis Gates' situation. It's better to be nice even when they are knuckle heads. Look forward to seeing you soon