No riots in this town

Whatever it was they were afraid of – it did not happen. No anarchist army trying to storm the city, no one trying to climb those fences or crash into those barricades. Just a lot of curious Dutch people with their bikes or on foot, standing around and hoping for a glimpse of someone important arriving for the Nuclear Security Summit.

Apart from that, empty streets. No traffic chaos. Apparently they really scared everyone off, the warnings have worked. On Monday morning the city stayed in Sunday mode. While biking to school with the boys I had to suppress the urge to check if it was really Monday.

Exceptionally nice traffic wardens and police men (in black combat uniform!) showed us where we were allowed to cycle and were not. They smiled, wished us a good day and were open for chats. The only thing disturbing the peace was the constant hum of the helicopters circling the area, until late at night.

On Tuesday, some cars ventured into the streets again, but still too few to cause serious problems. While cycling back from school in the afternoon we did encounter an annoying situation though: The police suddenly started to block one of the (officially open) side roads – someone important apparently needed to drive there. So we had to turn and ride back quite a bit and make a detour. Older boy sighed but did not complain. Younger boy was munching a cookie on his seat on my bike. (He complained later that he had gotten cold though… he did not like those policemen so much.)

Tuesday evening the helicopters stopped and it seemed that this was the end of the NSS for us.

Except for the fact that the fences and barricades were still there. It had taken some time to built them up, so naturally it will take some time to take them down again. Which goes without saying – and therefore no one had really mentioned it (or is it possible that they just thought it would sound too bad… having to live with blocked roads for a week instead of 2-4 days?)

So on Wednesday morning everyone took out their cars again, and we all found ourselves in a huge traffic jam after all. Hurray.

P.S. If I remember it correctly the whole thing cost more than 20 million Euro… I don’t know how much of that sum went into the fences and barricades…. but I think they could have saved some money there…

Small Sweet Satisfaction

You probably all now the feeling: Something small happens, a tiny little nastiness, and you think “Why are they always getting away with it? Why is no-one watching?” Well, today, someone was.

I was sitting in my car, driving home. Rush-our had passed, so the streets were rather quiet, traffic feeling was calm. I came to a traffic light, where I needed to turn right. On the side of the road was a bike path, so I needed to watch out for bikers (where I live, you always have to watch out for bikers – from any direction, at any time: they can appear out of thin air, and they are fast!). As I was approaching the lights turned yellow. I probably could still have proceeded, but I had to let some bikers pass, and while I waited for them, the lights turned red.

Fine, I thought, staying put in front of the red light. Not fine, the car behind me must have thought – because he suddenly passed me on the left side, driving through red and sped on.

I blinked. I let out a very modest honk – the type saying “what?”, not the one screaming “you idiot what do you think you are doing here?”, and exchanged a look with a very startled pedestrian who had just wanted to cross the road.

Then I heard the sound. A very nice deep “vroom” sound, coming out of the engine of the motorbike that sped past me now. Sitting on it was 1 policeman.

So I guess the driver who could not stand to loose a minute will now have lost a couple of more minutes, explaining his behaviour to the policeman . Plus he probably will have to part with some Euros.

I must confess I drove home with a smile on my face.

(I mean, seriously: Probably everyone has driven over a traffic light that was not really yellow anymore… more like very dark orange…. when you approach a traffic light and you think you can just make it and later realise it would have been better to have stopped. But actively overtaking someone who is already stopping at that light? That tops my previous number one in startling traffic light behaviour: Watching someone waiting at a traffic light, who then after a while seems to think he had enough and just starts driving while the light is still red. I have seen that two or three times already and I never cease to wonder what goes on in these people’s heads. – Oh, am I ranting now? 😉 )