I was walking to the south end of my bridge to do some much-needed maintenance when I came upon a large shopping bag, apparently stuffed full of clothing. It was right in the middle of the sidewalk and no one was in sight. I wasn’t about to go rooting around in this bag. After all, I once wrote about a hand grenade being found on a bridge. You just never know.
After alerting my supervisor, I spoke to the 911 operator and described the package. They said they would send someone out right away. This was good news, because not only would I like to keep my bridge, but this package was, coincidentally, only about 20 feet from my new (to me) car. That’ll ruin your whole day.
It was a little awkward. I didn’t want to leave this bag unattended. We get a lot of pedestrian traffic. So I stayed there, but at a safe distance.
But what is a safe distance, anyway? Close enough to keep the public away from the bag, but far enough not to be maimed for life if it exploded was what I was shooting for. I also didn’t want to stand so far away that I looked like a paranoid dope when it turned out to be just a bag of clothes as I strongly suspected it would. I spent an unbelievably long time pondering the sweet spot of distances until the officer arrived on the scene.
He reassured me that I’d done the right thing by calling. One cannot be too cautious in this day and age. He then inspected the bag from all angles, and asked if I had heard any sounds or seen any wires. No and no. So he then extended his baton to its full length and gingerly used it to pull out the first layer of stuff, which turned out to be a towel. I held my breath.
The bag’s contents included a beach towel, a jacket, and a very nice ballpoint pen. That seems like kind of a strange combination, but I guess we’ll never know the whole story. At least I know more of the story than all the joggers and bicyclers that hurried past. If they sensed my adrenaline dump, they definitely had no idea of its cause.
Just another day on the drawbridge. Move along. Nothing to see here. Your tax dollars at work.