Sure, the Secret Service guys LOOK all bad-ass. And obviously Pittsburgh is crawling with Homeland Security agencies, shadowy figures who know more about us than we know about ourselves.
But apparently, even THEY are no match for Pittsburgh's streets, reports our Bill O'Driscoll.
O'Driscoll is credentialed to attend the G-20 proceedings at the Covention Center, and he thought he'd stop by after attending a press conference at the August Wilson Center. But to get inside the convention center, press must first go through a security checkpoint at the Mellon Arena. As O'Driscoll describes it:
At the Arena, the Bigelow Boulevard side is blocked off -- even though that's where the media gate is. So cops direct you all the way around -- counterclockwise, from 7 o'clock to 10 o'clock. Then you empty your pockets and climb aboard one of the eight charter buses awaiting media.
Forty-five of its 50 seats were empty, but the bus left on time. The driver seemed only marginally familiar with Downtown. But he was more clued in than the Secret Service guy riding shotgun.
"You know this town better than I do," said the Secret Service guy as we attempted to locate a route to the Convention Center.
"This is Grant Street," the driver said a minute later. "Maybe that was William Penn Place there, I don't know."
O'Driscoll got their evenutually -- by way of Fifth, Liberty, and Fort Duquesne Boulevard. But the best part of the story may be this only-in-Pittburgh/only-during-the-G20 vision:
As O'Driscoll was walking up to the Arena, he says, he was passed by a pedicab -- peddled by a white Pittsburgher carrying an Asian passenger. Judging from the large amount of luggage in the cab, the passenger may have been overseas media. And on the hill rising up to the arena, O'Driscoll says, "the load apparently became too heavy: The passenger got out and had to push while the driver peddled ahead."
There's a metaphor in there somewhere, I'm pretty sure.