Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug

We checked out of our cheap, suburban motel this morning. As we were loading our bags into the cavernous trunk of the Ford Taurus, a huge guy with dreadlocks and wearing a Baltimore Ravens jacket walked towards us excitedly. Now, to thoroughly complete the scene, this is a motel parking lot, isolated from the surrounding neighborhood in several ways. Someone in the parking lot is either staying there or working there. Given we had bags, odds were favorable we didn’t work there. The abridged conversation, using some “bad words,” sounded like this:

Weirdo: Did you see that shit, man?
Me, coworker: (puzzled expression)
Weirdo: That dude done fucked your car up. He was supposed to give me a hot shot, but squealed out, hitting the curb and messing up your car.

Any impact would have left noticeable damage on the fender where it was allegedly hit. I looked around the car, saw nothing, and decide Weird Guy is either trying to scam us — though I know not for what — or he’s not taken the medication for his condition. Either way, I’m anxious to get moving along. I pop open the trunk and start loading my bags. Weird Guy goes into further ranting, showing tire tracks on the wet road, splatter residue, and so on, suggesting the offending invisible car hit 40mph. Finally, he asks for a “hot shot.” I don’t know what that is, and ask. Oh, “jump start. Do you have any jumper cables?” He doesn’t, so I’m off the hook. He asks if there’s a Wal-Mart nearby. We direct him into the hotel for the front desk to deal with and make our exit. Whew!
(I felt a teeny bit bad because the Comfort Suites Columbia Gateway staff was nice to us. The room was well-apportioned, they had free wireless, decent continental breakfast and for a third of what I’m spending at the Hyatt I’m in now.)

I spent part of the day in Washington DC again. The highlight was the trip to the National Archives’ “Eyewitness to History” exhibit. Many of the presentations were emotionally powerful, eliciting responses a lumpy throat or, in a couple of cases, tears.


A curious thing I noticed is the level at which jaywalking occurs in this part of the country borderlines on being performance art. When the traffic’s stopped, people walk between the cars. Some was to be expected as the exodus of Notre Dame-Navy fans clogged downtown Baltimore, expanding to fill space. But the peds in DC are in a league by themselves. We saw people walking across the middle of a four-lane road, pausing in the narrow median, timing their saunter — for it was a slow gait — the rest of the way. Sometimes they’d not even stop on the median, standing in the active lane. We saw dozens of examples of this sort of thing, and many were dangerously optimistic the cars would stop in time, causing cars to veer outside of the white lines, contributing to the anxiety of tourist n00bs like me hoping to just escape without an increased auto insurance premium. It’s a wonder more people don’t become bug splatter-equivalent.

2 thoughts on “Sometimes you’re the windshield, sometimes you’re the bug”

  1. I haven’t been to DC since junior high, but I’ll just say that moving from the Chicago area to the Northwest freaked me out in the opposite direction. “Why do these people actually wait for the light to change?” When my dad visited last week I realized how much I’ve been conditioned into the local habits since I kept having to run after him as he jaywalked 🙂

  2. Yes, jaywalking is an art form here in the Nation’s Capital. The key to good jay walking is to do it *without disrupting traffic flow* 😉

    I’m cheering for you and your characters as I blog my way through November.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *