There’s the not-so-homeless lady. Always well dressed, shod, and coiffed. She lays out a towel on a stone ledge near 23rd & F, sits there all day, and greets almost everyone that walks past. She’s often drinking a coffee from the nearby Dunkin Donuts. She has a cup out for money, but never really solicits it. She’s so well-behaved that I’m pretty sure this is some sort of sociological experiment. My co-worker once saw her getting into a vehicle at the end of the day, which we half-joke was her driver. But seriously, when she’s gone for a week or two, I’m pretty sure she’s typing up her notes at the beach house in Boca.
There are the omnipresent campaigners at the train station entrance, who want me to a) read something, b) sign something, c) donate to something, or d) all three. It’s often for environmental causes, though this morning it was firefighters and a burn charity of some sort. My favorites are the students in spring who want me to fund a spring break in Mexico where they claim they will build houses for the poor. I can smell the tequila already, you guys. No dice.
My fellow bus and train passengers have settled down of late, now that the majority of tourists have gone back to their schools, jobs, and homes. Things are still crowded, but I fell much more comfortable standing cheek-to-jowl with someone that understands the physics of Metro riding (doors open for approximately 15 seconds, walk briskly to the escalators, prepare farecard for scanning four paces before reaching the faregate, etc.) than with a tourist who isn’t sure what line he is on despite a literal barrage of audio and visual reminders.
Someone recently compared DC commuting to a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. It’s true, except that one route ends in death and the rest end in maniacal laughter. Especially when things go pear-shaped. Do you risk taking the train in the opposite direction to a different transfer point if it might make you late for your bus? What if the escalator at Rosslyn is broken—are you prepared to climb 150 stairs? Are you? ARE YOU?
There’s nothing quite like that sprint from train to bus between 4:37 and 4:40 pm, lemme tell ya.