Driving to work on Monday [May 2], I noticed that the flags on the Fremont Bridge were at half-staff. Given that weekend's news, I have to wonder: Did this have anything to do with the death of Osama?
I realize that certain flag-waving types think we're a bit deficient in the patriotism department, but let's be clear: Portlanders don't actually hate America, we haven't added the words "for me to poop on" to the end of the national anthem, and we did not just declare a city-wide day of mourning for Osama bin Laden.
On May 2, the flags were actually at half-staff in honor of Eugene police officer Chris Kilcullen, who was killed in the line of duty on April 22. Still, maybe you can be forgiven for thinking "Osama," since dozens made a similar mistake last week.
When the Springfield, Ohio, Hampton Inn's flag got stuck halfway down the pole (and don't you hate it when that happens?), locals naturally assumed management was shedding tears for bin Laden. Townsfolk descended on the hotel with pitchforks and torches (or at least made angry phone calls), dispersing only when eclipse-savvy authorities threatened to blot out the sun.
As to how anybody gets on top of our bridge to mess with the flags in the first place: The arches of the bridge are hollow. "You climb on your hands and knees," says ODOT's Kimberly Dinwiddie. "Once you make it to the top of the arch, you climb out of a hatch, down a ladder and onto the catwalk."
Piece of cake, right? As long as you have no fear of heights, don't mind enclosed spaces, and enjoy soiling yourself in white-knuckled terror on a public right-of-way. I salute the brave souls at ODOT, but I think I'll pass.