During a Nov. 18 interfaith prayer service urging action to prevent home foreclosures that took place outside the Treasury Building in Washington — which is right next door to the White House, and therefore subject to all of the security-state measures the nation’s chief executive gets — there were several big trucks, including a crane, working on a Pennsylvania Avenue, which is otherwise shut off to vehicular traffic.
So how do vehicles get inside the phalanx of protective bollards, those metal-coated cement obelisks installed every two feet or so in front of many federal office buildings?
It turns out that not all of them are totally stationary. Inside a guard shack on Pennsylvania Avenue just west of 15th Street NW, an officer can push a button, and four of the bollards will retract to below street level, allowing drivers of four-wheeled (or more) vehicles to come and go. Once they’ve passed, the bollards reappear.
It’s not exactly a quick process, but for somebody who doesn’t have a habit of seeing things systematically sink into the ground, it’s a fascinating process to watch.
I wonder now who else at the prayer service might have spotted the disappearing bollards — and whether they hoped they could make their mortgage miseries disappear as quickly as those bollards.