When we saw the first police officer stride across the parking lot as we strolled to lunch, it didn’t really register.
But when I saw the second standing on the sidewalk on a phone, I sensed trouble.
We reached him and turned left and he stopped us immediately.
“You can’t go that way, maybe cross the street,” he said and lunch suddenly seemed far away.
Turns out someone dropped a gift, wrapped in Christmas paper, on the curb in front of the courthouse. And the authorities decided it was suspicious.
We continued our walk to lunch but stopped when we saw the sheriff’s dog come down the steps, watched until we were waved on again as they stretched warning tape across the road and diverted traffic one way or the other.
Maybe we should have stayed, asked the questions and headed back to the office, but it didn’t look like much so we called the office and went our way.
It looked like the package had rolled out of someone’s car when they opened the door. As I was told later, I’d probably have opened it if I’d been the one to find it. The sheriff wanted to; I saw it in the way he lingered by the supposed risk, bent over so that his face was just two feet away from it.
But the road was shut down for hours.
By mid-afternoon the bomb squad from Pittsburgh arrived, suited up like an astronaut, and x-rayed the suspicious package.
Bright colored erasers for a child.
And the bomb squad returned to Pittsburgh and the officers took down their caution tape and traffic resumed through town.
I wonder if they’re laughing at us, those folks from Pittsburgh.
A bomb squad called out for erasers.
But ‘better safe than sorry’ they all said and ‘we had to follow protocol’ and while we laugh, I’d rather run the story we did today than one of death and destruction, if someone had opened an exploding Christmas present in March.
And if you lost erasers, feel free to claim them at the police station.