The whole experience the next few days was marked for me by a new or refreshed knowledge that those who had not felt included or invited in the past were now for the first time truly here, and part of it all, in great numbers. And I suppose the fact that this would never have come about without the support, the votes, of the traditionally invited and included gave a special air of inclusiveness to the event. There was great kindness between people and true friendliness. No one was different. Everyone, whatever their views or votes, was happy.
This is what you saw. Knit caps, parkas, plaid scarves, face warmers, hoods up, braced against the wet cold, flags on light posts, security tents, motorcades, police vans, checkpoints, flashing lights, people hopping from foot to foot when crowds slowed and they had to stand still. Stately African-American women in sweeping mink coats. A friend, a canny social observer, said, "The antifur people aren't going to take them on!" I laughed and realized yes, PETA just took one on the chin. Mink wearing will be safe in the new era. A former GOP ambassador told a friend, after walking the streets, "There is a feeling of good." Not happiness or gaiety, he said, but good—good feeling, good humor.
The traffic was so bad, and so chaotically handled, that everyone had a story. Mine: Stuck for more than an hour near the Mall one night and late for an appointment, I jumped out of a car and hailed an open-air bicycle with a backseat. The driver threw a blanket on me and began to pump the peddles. "What is this called?" I shouted as we raced around limos and town cars. I expected some politically correct name like Energy Saving Mobile Apparatus. He looked back at me quizzically. "A rickshaw!" We got there on time, 15 blocks in four minutes, and like a happy capitalist, the driver, gauging the moment, the need and the competition, opened bidding at $25. I was grateful to pay.