All you do at the Olympic Games is walk miles and miles.
You walk down long fenced chutes that end somewhere you aren't supposed to go anyway. You walk up multiple flights of stairs only to find that an entrance you could go in yesterday is out of bounds and the new entrance is on the other side of the building. You line up and wait. And when you're finished with that, you walk back the way you came. Maybe.
But always the long walks have a side benefit.
They are teaming with examples of unusual life forms. One chilly Salt Lake City day, a baby cried loudly at a stoplight that never seemed to change. She was covered with a blanket to protect her from the cold. Her father, dressed in large, tight jeans, wearing hair cut shorter than a worn wire brush, comforted her.
"We're almost there, just another block," he said with a southern accent.
A soldier in full camouflage, helmet and all, stood in the middle of the blocked-off street and when he saw the child, his face brightened.
"She's putting up a real protest," the father yelled to the soldier.
Smiling, the soldier joked that maybe she should head for the area that Games organizers have set aside for protesters.
"Only thing I want to do with those protesters is fire a shell at them,'' snarled the father over the baby's head.
The soldier didn't bat an eye. He didn't flinch at the remark.
On the surface, the father seemed like everyman, the ordinary man. Under the surface, he was fundamentally frightening.
So was the soldier.