I sadly agree with David Carr’s “Oh Say, Why Can’t We See?” (1/7) assessment of the millennium celebration on the Mall. A friend and I anticipated a great evening only to be tremendously disappointed, not so much by the poor sight lines or the hourlong wait to enter the Mall, but, surprisingly, by the guest services staff hired to look after the comfort and security of the thousands in attendance.
Needing a break from the cold, we were directed by an EMS worker to the “hospitality tent.” I left my friend there, instructing him to stay put until I returned from the gauntlet of overflowing Port-O-Lets. Three minutes later, as I tried to enter the hospitality tent, I was stopped, along with dozens of other people.
“The tent is closed. We can’t let nobody in—we ain’t got no more food,” said the man blocking the entrance. Even though we assured the gentleman that we weren’t interested in food and were only there to rejoin our friends and family, the answer was no.
“Can I at least let my wife and kids know I’m here?” asked the man ahead of me.
After waiting 15 minutes, I told the man I could see my friend inside and was just going to get his attention. As I stepped into the tent, I was grabbed around the neck and thrown backward, then grabbed by two other employees, who then allowed the first employee to readjust his hold to two hands around my neck. Fearing loss of consciousness, if not life, I managed to mutter, “Let go or I’ll sue.” I was released and got my friend out of the tent.
I wanted names. Unfortunately, not a single employee had on a name tag.
“Do you have a supervisor?”
“What department do you work for?” They huddled briefly.
“We think it’s the guest services department. We were hired by a temp agency.”
About this time, the “security,” two harried rent-a-cops, arrived. “Let’s just move along,” they said.
“Excuse me, but I think the guest services staff might be a danger to the public.”
“Sir, move along. We have more important things to look after.”
Oh, yes. Those Y2K terrorists. How could I forget?