17 May, 2007

You'll Be Happy to Know...

...that my local military base has excellent security. And how would I know that, Dear Reader?

I tested it myself. Unintentionally.

Early lunchtime, FbL is in the car and munching on what's left of lunch as she returns to work and approaches the least-used gate on the base (a gate where significant security precautions exist but are not readily apparent to the uneducated/naked eye). She's just finished a phone conversation about one of three subjects that have been preoccupying her for two weeks now.

Act I: The guard is firmly ensconced in his little shack, rather than on the road and there are no other cars in front of her. Thus, there are none of the usual visual cues to remind a preoccupied Fuzzybear to pull out her ID and stop. So she doesn't.

Completely oblivious, she soon turns off the main road into a parking lot, stops for a 3-minute errand, then takes the back way (through parking lots) to her employment site's parking lot. Checking the clock, she sees she still has a few minutes, so she pulls down the visor mirror and does some close inspection.

Act II: Relatively soon, a young warrior comes up from behind her vehicle and motions for her to lower her window. Looking up, she sees an MP vehicle blocking the only outlet to her left, another behind it, and a third pulling up across the street. "Huh. Wonder what's happening," she thinks to herself.

Young Warrior: What gate did you enter when you came on base, Ma'am?

FbL: ________ Gate.

YW: When?

FbL (wondering why this matters): About ___________ minutes ago.

YW: Stay in your vehicle.

Having relieved FbL of the burden of her various IDs and paperwork, he goes back behind her vehicle and FbL checks the rearview mirror and realizes his vehicle is blocking her car. They've surrounded me, this can't be good.

Act III: FbL is left to wonder what she did until a sergeant from the vehicle on the left steps up after a while...

Sergeant: Do you remember showing your ID to the guard at the _______ Gate?

FbL (perplexed, as she realizes she doesn't even remember coming through the gate): Umm... I'm not sure. But since you're here, I'm guessing I didn't.

Sergeant struggles to maintain his bearing, but fails as a look of amusement crosses his face. Realization of what she has done dawns on FbL, and in horror she apologizes profusely for causing problems and for making them chase down someone who is not a security threat instead of dealing with the genuine threats out there. She tries to be mature about it but would rather be crawling under the seat in embarrassment for her stupidity and shame for taking up their time.

The sergeant recovers his bearing, and what follows is his account of the seriousness of FbL's transgression (with which she heartily agrees) and of the security mechanisms they had decided NOT to employ against her as things developed. Reference is made to bad things that could have happened to her tires, to which she can't help but reply with resignation, "You might as well have done it, 'cause I need new ones anyway." Sergeant temporarily loses his bearing again.

After more lecturing in which phrases like "Fort Dix" and "extra watchful" and "very serious" and "that's why we have ______ at the gates now" figure prominently, the sergeant informs her the YW will be issuing the citation, then leaves her to ponder her fate after she once again avers her understanding of the awful significance of her transgression.

In the wake of way too much pondering, the YW approaches and informs her she'll be receiving a citation for "failure to stop at a stop sign." At her mild look of distress, he hastens to assure her, "Oh! This is a good thing. What you did was much, much worse!" FbL once again stifles the urge to crawl under the seat and settles for covering her face in shame as she apologizes for the 10th time.


So, that's the story. I can laugh about it a bit now, but I'm absolutely horrified at the stupidity of what I did and of having caused them so much unnecessary trouble by that stupidity. And apparently even though I received a lesser ticket, a major incident report will be filed.

I suppose the upside is that I'll now be well known among a number of handsome warriors who man the gate: "She's the dim bulb who crashed the gate without even knowing it!"

Top my day off with the very serious question of whether or not one of my charges is being abused and you may understand why I think I'll just go to bed now and pull the covers over my head.