The thing Flat Stanley likes most about living and working in DC is the morning commute. No, silly reader, it's not because the rest of the day is that bad. It's because Flat Stanley lands in the middle of the city while its feet are still in slippers, before it's had its first cup of coffee, before it's brushed its teeth, combed its hair and dressed for the day.
By afternoon the city's in full swing and all these little pieces are lost in the busyness of busy.
At the bus stop a homeless man talks about his plans for the day: Go to the shelter, get a shower, then sell socks from a large duffel bag. He hopes to start a community center to provide counsel for other homeless. Flat Stanley's schedule changes for a week or two, and when she next catches that bus, the man has moved on and she doesn't see him again.
A well-dressed bag lady asks the bus driver every single day for a week if he stops at Quinn. "It's between Scott and Ridley." Another passenger, an elegant older woman, always wears huge, Hollywood-style sunglasses. One morning she boards without her glasses, and FS sees the remnants of a big ugly bruise high on her cheek.
The metro (subway to my pre-city readers) stops within a block of FS's place of work, but the chance to greet the rising sun as laborers hose the urine from the sidewalks and the homeless take up their collection stations under a cool morning breeze and red lights not yet holding up traffic — it's too tempting.
At 7:15 on the corner of F and Ninth, a black man dressed in an oversized basketball-style tank and shorts practices fancy foot-work, running in place and throwing jabs, his head bopping to the sound in his earphones and filling the entire intersection with grunts that impress even this former Marine. The porters at the Marriott gather to watch and laugh as FS tells them about her efforts to catch the guy on her cell phone camera. Passersby make a point of crossing the street anywhere but at the corner where the Richard Simmons-wannabe gets it on.
At the Ultra Bar, housed in an old bank building, the sidewalk is never scrubbed. Neatly stacked on the granite wall is a black leatherette mini-jacket and barely-worn stiletto-heeled velvet boots. They're gone that afternoon...FS makes a point of checking.
Lenny Fineman and the Troll perform their amazing violin and guitar duo at the next metro exit. They were gone for a few weeks. Vacation, probably.
The Chinese immigrant, the one FS by-passed a few months to put a buck in the Troll's open guitar case, is a case-study in brilliance, or insanity, or schizophrenia, or maybe all three. She sits on a low wall, her left elbow propped on her knee, and takes a relaxed drag on her cigarette. At the same time, she jabs a pissed-off middle-finger salute to an invisible person and shrieks a curse in gibberish. Or maybe it's Chinese.
One morning an empty old woman who reeks of stale urine drags a white tee shirt while looking in all the trash cans. Looking for something, but she does not know what, and she'll never find it. It's a horrible, heat-record-breaking day. She's still there that afternoon, exhausted and smellier, still lost, still looking, her tee-shirt now gray and ragged.
Today, FS got a laptop at work. Under the bookmarks was a tag "all dudes-gay male porn." Oopsie. Somebody's going to be in trouble.
Tomorrow, FS plans to walk down G Street. Someone scratched an interesting comment about a nearby church into the cement of a freshly poured curb, and FS wants to write it down.