Tuesday. Friday. And I’m not even going to tell you about Wednesday.

Small decisions.

Tuesday.

What exit to take from Metro Center. What streets to walk to get to the CVS, and to the cough drops and Theraflu stocked there. And as I crossed 11th Street, I not only realized that the raven haired woman walking towards me was smiling at me, but that dammit, I recognized her. I worked at the Bookstore with her: I was a bookseller, she was cafe. She’d left for one of the Virginia stores around Thanksgiving, after a dispute with management.

Nicole.

I smiled back, and we embraced in the middle of the intersection. “I was just thinking about you!” she said to me, and then we both decided to get out of the intersection before the light changed colors.

Side note: there are very few things quite as wonderful as a pretty lady telling you she’s been thinking about you recently.

We talked about going to see Harry Potter when it opened it at the Smithsonian’s IMAX screens. She still hadn’t seen part one of The Deathly Hallows. I gave her my email address, told her we should go together. “Maybe I’ll watch part one tonight,” she said.

Friday

I debated whether to go grocery shopping or not. Sick all week, finally starting to feel better, but I still weighed my returning appetite against my desire to just go home and lay down on the couch.

I was in the home goods aisle, looking for dish soap. “Jeff?” I turned and saw Brooke.

I first met Brooke one morning at about six o’clock. She’d just moved in down the hall and we were both waiting for the same elevator. She was in heels, and she’d just met me, but she trusted me to lead her down my alley shortcut to the Metro, and then she let me talk her into taking the escalator instead of the elevator. On the platform, I caught a train for Shady Grove, and she for Glenmont.

That was about three years ago. We only hung out once, when she took me up on my offer to watch the presidential debates, as she didn’t have TV. She came down the hall another time to watch my cats while I was away for a weekend.

We’ve been neighbors all that time, although she was only in my building for a year. I would see her on occasion, usually down near that (I think now defunct) coffee shop past Manhattan Market. I hadn’t seen her in probably a year or so. I thought she’d moved on, left DC.

She finished law school a year ago, she told me. She couldn’t find a job. She was moving back to New England, tomorrow. We talked about whether it was necessary for her to spend lots of money on cleaning supplies to get her soon-to-be-former apartment ship shape. I said no. The landlord would do that. She’d worried about me when she’d heard Borders had closed. I was fine, I have a new part-time job, and it was okay, but it wasn’t the same.

She wrote down her email address in the notepad I carry. We hugged.

Two re-connections that I would have missed out on if I hadn’t made such small, minute decisions. What exit to take. What route to walk. Where and when to go to the grocery store. And yet part of me wonders … what would’ve happened if I’d taken another path?

I Love NextBus

NextBus is a software application that utilizes GPS to track public buses. The idea is you’re in your office, or your home, and you pull up the application and check the stop on the corner and it tells you that a north-bound bus (or a south bound bus, or whatever) is scheduled to arrive in five minutes, so you grab all your stuff and you run down to the corner in time to jump the bus.

This as opposed to the old way, when you’d check the printed schedule and get out your front door to see the bus pulling away because it was ahead of schedule, or wait in the heat for thirty minutes because some asshole ran a red light on Calvert and the bus is stuck behind all the police cars and ambulances and tow trucks cleaning up wrecked cars and shoveling dead squished red-light runners out of said wrecked cars and pouring their liquified remains into a body bag.

Anyway.

So tonight I was “closing usher” at my part time job. This means that after all the other other hourly staff get to go home, I have to stick around on the off chance a guest’ll say, “Hey, man, I’m sweating my balls off in theater five.” This gives me the opportunity to say “Schweaty Ballz!”

Well, no.

Any case, long story short (“Too late!” I know, I know), the last show got out a few minutes early, I punched out, turned my phone off, and darted out of the nice air conditioned Cinecave into the humid night and was nearly crushed by said humidity.

(I have to get up in five hours and I’m drinking – good idea or bad? Discuss in comments. Thanks.)

I checked NextBus. It said a D6 bus was arriving in two minutes.

Here’s the thing: from the Cinecave, there are a few ways I can get home:

1. The Metro. Well, not tonight, because by the time I was out the door, Metro was closed.

2. Walking. In his humidity? It’s a three mile walk uphill. No thanks.

3. Taxi. I have no cash and I think it’s ridiculous to pay $8 to go three miles when there are far cheaper options. Also, my years working pizza delivery have apparently rendered it absolutely impossible to tip anyone — even taxi drivers — less than $5. No thanks.

4. Bus. Okay, this we can do. There are two main options here: the 42 which would take me to Adams Morgan, from where I could walk the rest of the way home (which according to Google Maps is 8/10th of a mile but doesn’t feel that long); or the D6 with a transfer to the L2 which runs past my apartment.

So, back to the present. There was a D6 arriving in two minutes. I could see it up the street. According to NextBus, there was a 42 arriving (two blocks north) in five minutes.

Okay, so I’ve got the D6. My preferred way home involves not walking a mile. So my next question is: when’s the next L2?

I checked NextBus’s favorite stop feature. The only stop I have bookmarked that services both the D6 and the L2 (in the direction of home, anyway) is 18th & K. According to NextBus, the D6 would arrive in 10 minutes, the L2 in 11.

I jumped on the D6, knowing that if I missed my connection, I’d be facing either a long walk uphill, or a long wait for another L2.

When the D6 turned onto K Street, I stared intently out the left side windows towards McPherson Square, and saw the L2 in its pre-run staging location. There was a narrow moment I was afraid my plans would be for naught when the L2 started moving, but it got a red light, and the D6 got a green, and I was able to jump off at 15th & K and snag the L2.

And it wouldn’t have been possible without the information provided from NextBus.

I realize that people frequently have problems with NextBus’s accuracy, but I think a lot of that has to do with predicting a bus’s arrival in periods of heavy traffic (so, basically, anytime after 7am and before 10pm).

Anyway, hooray NextBus, but you want to know what I should’ve been doing instead of writing this post?

Yeah, sleeping. See you in a few.

Borders’ Endgame

Looks like the company is swirling the drain … it’s been close to six months since I left the company, it doesn’t seem nearly that long ago.

Borders filed for bankruptcy protection in February, and has been beating the bushes looking for a white knight. But today Borders said it received no formal proposals to buy the company out of bankruptcy protection.

That means Borders will ask a judge to approve a sale of the company to firms that specialize in taking apart companies and selling them for scrap.

Borders said going-out-of-business sales at its remaining 400 stores may start as soon as Friday. The wind down of Borders should be done by the end of September, Borders said. The company has nearly 11,000 employees.

If you pray, do so for those booksellers — about 11,000 — who are facing the loss of their jobs (if you don’t pray, cross your fingers or just keep those people in your thoughts). And why are they losing their jobs? Oh, right: because a bunch of executives thought the bookstore chain they were hired to run was a grocery store. Or a tobacco company. Or whatever. And those guys, already not worrying too much about day-to-day finances, are probably going to make out pretty damn well.

The Karma of Harry Potter at the Uptown

It’s not so much that I believe in karma.

It’s just that I think if you’re going through life being a shitbag, you’re going to inevitably shit on yourself. And if you go through life being a nice guy, well, you get shit on too, but not as often.

Anyway: I don’t believe in karma. But I do believe it’s a good thing to go through life pretending that it does.

So today is probably technically the last day of my vacation. I mean, I don’t have to work tomorrow or Sunday, but I don’t have to take PTO for them, either, so it sort of seems like it isn’t actually part of vacation. Especially since I have to go back to work Monday. Can’t wait. Hah.

Anyway, I decided to go to the 9am showing of Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Pt. II. Don’t worry – there are no spoilers for the film here. This is more about the karmaiac experience I had getting to the theater. And, basically…

There were a variety of things that I did this morning that took my karma meter into the “you’re going to get shit on.” In no particular order (except, uh, chronological):

1. I bought a soda and a bag of snacks from CVS in Cleveland Park to sneak into the movie theater. Little known fact: movie theaters make most of their money from concession sales. Sneaking snacks into a movie theater is a big bad no-no, and as an employee of a movie theater, this is something I am keenly aware of (I did it anyway). Karma Score: -1.

2. After I bought the snacks via CVS’s automated checkout lanes, I decided I needed a bag. If you’ve never used CVS’s automated checker, it prompts customers to voluntarily identify how many bags they are going to use (DC has a five-cent-a-bag bag tax/fee). Basically, folks are on the honesty policy. After selecting no bag … I then decided to take one anyway. Karma Score: -2.

3. I walked south because it was faster to reach the crosswalk. Crossing Connecticut Avenue to the west was currently illuminated for pedestrians, and I could see the time ticking down. So I opted to cross. Even though, technically, I wasn’t quite at the crosswalk. Like, five meters north? And I nearly got run over by a woman in a blue car turning north from Macomb. She was looking south, and not for pedestrians, but since I wasn’t in the crosswalk, this was totally my fault. In any case, I managed not to get run over, and so that was good. I think. Karma Score -3.

4. There was no one in the box office at the Uptown Theater. The doors were open. There was no one checking tickets. There was one person at the concession stand and she was helping people. My options were to wait for someone to emerge to sell me a ticket, or to head in and watch the new Batman/Dark Knight teaser which was playing. So, uh, that’s what I did. I went into a movie theater without paying for a ticket. Remember when I said I worked in a movie theater? Yeah, this was like Karma -1000.

5. But apparently Harry Potter was playing in 3-D which I hadn’t, uh, actually noticed. And since I hadn’t paid for a ticket, no one gave me any 3-D glasses. This actually wasn’t so bad: I took off my glasses and it was pretty much like watching a film in a theater without vision-correction glasses. And whenever my mind would start to think “Man, this sucks” another part would chime in with “Asshole, you didn’t pay for a ticket.” Karma +whatever.

I like to think that the no-3-D-glasses was karma’s retribution for my conduct this morning. I’m off to see the O’s play Cleveland tonight, so if the O’s win, I know I’ll be back in karma’s good — or at least, neutral — graces.

Netflix

On the train headed home from New England, my phone chirped: new mail. It was an announcement from Netflix about their new pricing structure: no longer can you have both a physical DVD and streaming on one plan, you need two plans. And both plans are going up in price to a minimum of $7.99 – basically, if you want one disc a month unlimited, and unlimited streaming, you’re looking to pay $15.98 a month.

I got rid of my cable TV about a year and a half ago. It was costing me $70 a month for a service that I rarely utilized. Do I miss it? Well, no. That’s because I’ve got lots of DVDs, Netflix, and an HD antenna to pick up the broadcast stuff. In addition to that, they, lots to read.

In any case, when the new pricing plan takes effect in September, I’ll be ditching the physical DVD part of Netflix. I don’t begrudge Netflix upping their prices – it is a great service. But in terms of my actual use, I only watch one or two actual discs from Netflix a month. At $7.99, that’s a price ratio that makes Blockbuster look damn well cheap.

But for me – it’s just a waste of money. Yeah, there’ll be movies I want to see that aren’t available on streaming. You know what? I’ll live.

Holy Clausterphobic Clusterfuck, Batman

I’ve been to Capital Hill Books once and while it was a very impressive bookstore, I also left feeling very lucky one of those stacks had not collapsed on me. Serious feelings of claustrophobia there.

Today I visited two bookstores. The first was the Symposium store (one of at least two) just off Brown University’s campus. It was like a used bookstore for new books. I think they must buy remainders because it’s the only way to account for the quantity of books (few titles, but many copies of those titles) and deep discounts (probably better than Amazon could do). This was still a very attractively arranged store, and while crowded, did not anywhere nearly hit the claustrophobic “I am going to die buried under a stack of books” like the second bookstore I encountered.

The second place was a used bookstore in Salem called, I believe, Darby’s. Holy claustrophobia, Batman. Just check out the enclosed photo to see how amazing it is that staff were able to find specific titles. When books are stacked like that I think it is pretty impressive they were able to remove specific titles without bringing the whole stack down upon themselves.