It’s the afternoon of New Year’s Eve and I am among a group of tourists standing near the front entrance of the Washington National Cathedral.
We ignore the Neo-Gothic architecture, altars and stained glass because everyone is transfixed on the bookish tour guide. The middle aged woman who greeted everyone nicely a few minutes ago is now glaring up at the second floor balcony above the cathedral entrance.
“Excuse me,” the guide says, barely below a shout. “Get down from there now. NO — that floor is closed. You need to get down here NOW.”
She repeats herself several times. A tourist in a suit tries to help the guide with awkward hand motions to the second-floor trespassers. I can’t see who is on the balcony but it is obvious that they are lingering to take pictures and the tour guide was having none of it.
“Elevator access is shut down to that floor,” the tour guide says to the nearby suited man. “I don’t understand how they got up there or why it’s not clear to them that the second floor is closed!”
“People are just stupid I guess,” he says in a thick Italian accent.
I quickly turn to the statue of George Washington to avoid laughing.
A very quiet end to 2017
Minor tourist drama aside, the trip to the cathedral was a pleasant way to end the year. It was also the last trek out that I would make that day.
It became increasingly clear that I was staying in for New Year’s Eve when I still didn’t have any plans by 9 p.m.