Excerpt from mail sent in 2001, soon after Sep 11:
This morning on my way to work, I stopped by City Hall to drop off my absentee ballot. I stopped at the security gate, ready for the guard to ask me to open my bag. Instead, he asked, "Do you work here?" It turns out that the building wasn't opening up for another half hour; they were only letting in employees.
On the other side of the security gate, there was a lady putting her stuff back into her purse, which had just been searched. She said that if I just wanted to drop off my ballot, she could take it downstairs, since she worked in the voting office.
So I thanked her and handed over the ballot. As she took it, she aimed a glance at the security guard and said, "We can't be paranoid all the time." Like maybe she didn't like being searched on her way in to work. And then the guard said, "We gotta," like maybe he didn't like getting sniped at over a policy he hadn't created. And I wondered at the drama I'd stumbled onto.
And then I stumbled out of it.
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