“Everyone talks about the humidity in DC, but it’s really not that bad.”
The light was beginning to fade on Sunday, and I was on an eastbound Circulator. Seated in front of me were four graduate students, three women and a man, all of whom had what seemed to be slight European accents, perhaps tempered by extensive time spent in North America, or by years of English lessons. Dutch? German? I couldn’t quite place it. They’d just finished an extensive discussion on how the Canadians can keep trains running in deep snow when the DC Metro can’t. That struck me as kind of unfair and a failure to understand how a region with deep snowfalls only once every several years might have different needs than a region with deep snowfalls several times a single year.
I also kept my mouth shut about what a beautiful August we’ve been having. Many mornings have felt like autumn. I wanted to tell them, “This is not normal. This weather is not what DC is about in August. Go find some wood and you knock on it. You knock the fuck out of it.”
“Is this Columbia Heights?” one woman asked her friends. We made a left onto Columbia Road, then another left, a right, and yet another left, which put us onto Mount Pleasant Street.
Another woman, seated facing me and looking out the rear of the bus, checked her phone. “We need to make this left if we’re going to Target.”
We made a right onto Irving.
Panic. “Oh, wait, it’s because I’m …” the woman squirmed in her seat, trying to match her phone to the movement of the bus. “Okay, I think we’re okay.”
Half of the people on the Circulator got off at 14th & Irving. The four graduate students were trying to figure out where the Target was. I pointed them to the building just north of us – they noticed the IHOP first — and then pointed south on 14th Street towards Columbia. “When you’re done, walk there, turn right, and wait by the Circulator sign.” As long as they could remember those directions, they’d be fine.
The Circulator closed its doors and pulled forward, turning onto Irving. A white guy in an orange shirt ran in front of the bus and pointed at the door, trying to get on. The driver shook his head and kept moving his bus. This guy, a real bro, started slapping his chest and clapping in attempted sarcasm. “Way to go, man! Way to go! Bravo!” It came across as entitlement.
College kids back in town. Young people with George Washington, Georgetown, Howard, Gaullidet, Trinity, and Catholic apparel filled the store. Confused chatter as students tried to map their home and familiar Target with this two-level urban store; excited chatter from students used to strict Blue Laws as they discovered the aisles and end-caps of wine and beer. It had been busier earlier in the day, a friend from my Bookstore days told me before someone tugged on his arm and asked where to find the electronics section.
I didn’t need much. Dishwashing detergent, toothpaste, cans of cat food. I had eleven items but was directed to one of the express lanes. I had violated my one rule on shopping at Target on the weekend: never, ever, on any occasion, after 10am.