City Hall

We had lunch with Gerry in downtown Mountain View. The radio at the sandwich shop was going. After lunch, we left Gerry in City Hall and took the elevator downstairs. We were in a completely publicly accessible part of the building. I saw an open door with a sign next to it: "Public Works Receptionist." It occurred to me that I'd been wondering what was up with a particular stoplight (each light covered with caution tape), so I stopped in to ask. Mya stayed back in the hallway.

They told me to wait for the traffic guy. A minute later, while I was still waiting, someone came along in great distress and said, "Do you work here?" I said no. He said, "Then I must insist that you wait in the public waiting area," and dragged me all the way through the office to the public waiting area on the other side. Apparently I'd come in the back door, though there was no indication that I shouldn't.

After several more minutes of waiting, I decided to bail. But Mya was still on the far side of the office. I decided to try the usual sort of "look like you know what you're doing" tactic and just walk through the office. I got less than halfway before several people surrounded me and demanded that I go back to the public area, that doing so was particularly important that day. I finally communicated to them that my friend was waiting for me on the far side; Mya came in, and we went back to the public area.

I certainly can't blame them for being distressed; it was a very rough day all around. But I did wish they'd listened a little better to what I was trying to tell them: they had no security at all around the back entrance we'd come through, no indication that it was off-limits to the public. If their goal was to keep the public out, they were doing a lousy job.

But I let it go. It was a rough day; they didn't need to be told off by some random citizen.

I have to admit that I did wonder why they thought Mountain View City Hall would be a likely target of a terrorist attack. But by that point I was pretty convinced that the attacks were, at least for the time being, over; clearly an awful lot of people thought they weren't. So I have to cut them some slack.

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