The pay it forward umbrella

I can’t remember the last time I bought an umbrella. Actually, to that point, I can’t remember if I’ve ever bought an umbrella. I never really needed one when I lived up in Timonium — seemed silly when all you really needed was a quick dash to get from your car to the store, or your apartment, or whatever. And then when I moved to DC I had the “lost and found” bin at Borders. It contained tons of umbrellas. If it was raining out the staff would just grab unclaimed umbrellas once the doors were locked. We’d never take the nice, noticeable ones. “Oh, no, this umbrella with the carved ivory handle is totally mine.” Don’t think of it as stealing – think of it as paying it forward.

After a few years I’d built up quite a stockpile. But then Borders closed. And slowly, one by one, the umbrellas started disappearing: my own contribution to paying it forward. I was walking home from the store one day when it began to rain. I had heavy bags in both hands. I stopped long enough to hand the umbrella I had with me to a pregnant woman with no covering. I lost another just a few weeks ago at Farragut Square.

I was down to my last “pay it forward” umbrella this morning, although I have a couple of big golf umbrellas in my closet. For obvious reasons, I kinda hate these things. They’re like a deadly wheel of death showering pain and water onto my unsuspecting fellow pedestrians.

So, my last “pay it forward” umbrella. It’s one of those really small umbrellas. It’s also broken. It’s not very effective. It kept most of the rain off me, so I guess that was good. I think one of its spokes put a hole in my khakis today, so I was tempted to shove the damn thing into a trashcan at some point.

Anyway, I was a little delayed heading out of work today, so I missed the low-occupancy L1. That’s a relative term, anyway. It’s usually pretty crowded. This one was pretty crowded and wet.

I have a love/hate thing with the L1. It’s usually the fastest bus route home, but with rush hour traffic, it’s almost not that much longer walking. And it’s crowded. I honestly prefer the L2. For people who know about Metrobus, this is where they interject, “But you have to go through the circle!” Meaning Dupont. But I like that because it gives me more reading time. And besides, once you’re past Dupont, it goes much faster. Anyway: walking is my preferred mode of transportation. But not in a thunderstorm. In any case, given the volume of rain, I decided to just jump the bus.

So I did. It took about forty minutes to get from Dupont to Woodley Park. I was standing for much of the time, back by the exit (where the auto announcement instructs NOT to stand, but I didn’t have much choice). The woman on the seat behind me was having a conversation. She mentioned her shoes were going to get ruined because she didn’t have an umbrella, and they were suede. I’m not sure I even know what suede is. Anyway, I offered her my umbrella. She didn’t want it, but I insisted, and she eventually took it.

I don’t know if it kept her shoes dry. I hope it did that. I have the half horrified notion that it gave up the ghost halfway to her destination and she’s standing somewhere holding her ruined shoes muttering about how if she ever sees me on the bus again …

Mike Wise, The O’s, & The National Anthem

Dear Mike Wise,

Hey, you know what was cute? When James Earl Jones sung the National Anthem at Baltimore and had a WTF moment because apparently no one had told him the whole crowd chants “OH!” really loudly at the part of the anthem.

Somehow I doubt your article, “Fans who yell ‘Oh!’ during national anthem are tainting a moment meant to unite Americans” (The Washington Post, 5/19/12) is really about “the class and dignity of people who appreciate the national anthem as the last bastion of Americana we can all stand behind” and more about you being upset the O’s won the series. (Shock).

Go O’s!

The Cat on the Top of the Fridge

My kitchen is long and narrow. It’s what you get in a city apartment. Running from left to right is my easy bake oven (not really, but it’s a joke the property manager told me when he showed me the apartment), a just-as-narrow dishwasher, a sink, a short slice of counter, and a table which holds my microwave. There’s a three foot gap, and then my fridge, which faces the counter, and blocks most of the window. It’s not the most optimal arrangement, but otherwise the door doesn’t have enough space to open.

After collecting my laundry from downstairs, I saw my older cat eying me from the ledge of my window. Not the kitchen window, the main window. I’d call it the living room window, but this is a studio. Actually, “living room” takes on a lot more literal sense in a studio. So I said, “Alright, cat, let’s get you some breakfast.” And I looked about for the younger cat, but she wasn’t sleeping on the bed, so I figured she’d come out when she heard the opening of the can.

Guy was, of course, right at my feet as I opened the can, but it wasn’t his voice I heard cry. I looked around at my feet for Tippy, but she was nowhere to be seen. Which is weird because it isn’t like my kitchen is particularly large. It’s actually impossible for the cats to hide anywhere in here. There’s nowhere they can hide. I figured Tippy was ducking out of sight into the foyer.

And then I saw her. She was on top of the fridge. I have no idea how she got there. Sure, she could get up on the microwave table and make the jump, but how could she land? Atop my fridge is, among other things, a radio, a case of bottled water, a collection of bottle caps. The fridge is basically surplus kitchen storage.

One of the great things about my apartment is that because of its shape (an L) and the position of the building, it’s flooded with natural light in the morning. This can actually be a bad thing in the summer because it can get really really really warm in here. In any case, Tippy’s fur was warm and I knew she was just toasting herself. I’ve never seen her up there before, so I don’t know if that’s her regular hideout, or just some place she decided to investigate.

Anyway, I helped her down, and then she had to fight for access to the food bowl.