I’m used to the dark of night, not the light of day, and as the train emerges from the tunnel, the latter still has the power to surprise me, even though it’s been this way for a week or so: am I late? This early in the morning — I’m usually out the front door of my building shortly after six — the summer heat has yet to hit, and it feels wonderful outside.
Yeah, that’s right, summer heat. Spring? That was Friday the 24th. Started and ended. It’s summer now, bitches. A fact that became incredibly clear to me last night when I walked home after a shift at the Bookstore: it was, I suppose, slightly cooler than it had been five hours earlier, but I was a sticky mess when I made it two miles north and found to my incredible displeasure that I’d left my ceiling fan off and my apartment was warm and toasty.
I prefer last night, though, to Saturday. As we were closing, bright flashes illuminated the intersection we sit on. “Is that a storm?” I asked. “Traffic camera, probably,” someone else thought.
No, it was lightning. After we’d chased the customers out, and finished the recovery, and taken off our name-tag/lanyards and clocked out and grabbed our stuff and made our way upstairs to be checked out, and that’s when we all sort of realized that, yes, indeed, that’s rain.
And none of us have umbrellas.
So we all sort of eyed each other, and then made a mad dash for the lost-and-found box. I snagged a gray umbrella, but I would’ve taken the hot-pink one. See, I’d planned on walking home, but two miles in a downpour? Not my cup of tea. My first plan was pretty basic: I’d walk a block to the Metro, hop on, get off, walk the block and a half home. Armed with an umbrella, easy as pie, right?
Wait, what’d I do with my SmarTrip card? Then I remember: I left it hanging on my closet door. I check my wallet: do I have enough cash for a paper ticket?
No, I’ve got a solid buck.
Wait: flash. What accepts a single dollar?
The Circulator! And what new route does the Circulator have? That’s right: McPherson Square, only a few blocks to the East, right to the Metro stop near my apartment. Awesome! So I step out of the Bookstore, open my umbrella, and proceed east to McPherson Square, where the rain stops doing a hard drizzle and starts a full-on downpour, and in this downpour, even with umbrella, I’m soaked, and circling the square twice, what do I see?
I’ll tell you what I don’t see: I don’t see a Circulator stop, and the only Circulator I see is going to Georgetown. I’m tempted to get on, because I’d just finished reading the Exorcist and it scared the bejesus out of me and I want to see the stairs, but I don’t want to walk home from Georgetown in a thunderstorm, either.
I’m on the verge of panic. Well, okay, not panic, but here’s the thing: I’ve just walked a good distance out of my way. I’m tired, I’m very wet, I don’t want to trudge two miles home in a thunderstorm, but I can’t find the fucking Circulator. There’s a bum looking at me from a park bench, and I’m half hoping he’ll ask me for money so I can give him my dollar and have no choice in the matter.
On my third lap around McPherson Square, this is when my brain decides to start working: on the eastern edge, I notice that the street is not 14th as I had assumed, but rather, 15th. And I know that the Circulator runs down 14th Street. So now I’m a little puzzled, especially since the Circulator bills itself as running from Woodley Park to McPherson Square, why doesn’t it pick up on McPherson Square?
And I see my answer as I walk east: oh, look, there’s an entrance to the McPherson Square Metro on 14th and I Street, and there, catty-corner, is a bright Circulator stop notice. And there, even more beautiful, is a Circulator coming down the street. Even better? My dollar totally worked.