Thursday, June 29, 2006

Snack in a car

On my way back from work. At the corner of Florida and U Street, almost right in front of the 9:30 pub and the new luxury condominiums that just got built there..
A big SUV in front of me. I can see the faces of the people inside and a guy rummaging through a paper bag from a fast food place. He holds a soggy pizza slice in front of him and I see him tilt his head backward to shovel the slice in his mouth. He does not eat it all at once and throw the rest out of the window.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Faking it

Billy Goat trail on a sunny Saturday morning. I'm with a friend, enjoying the small hike so close to the city. As we turn on the path, there is a couple, resting, in the middle of the trail. The woman is lying with her back straight on the ground, her legs popped up on a rock and her head resting on her backpack. It looks awkward but I've learned that people hiking here have all their quirky habits so I don't say anything. As we get closer and we are almost passing them, the man, holding a cell phone, calls after us: "Would you please see if the rescue team is coming?"
Immediately feeling bad not to have noticed the agony on the woman's face, we ask if there is anything we can do beside direct the incoming rescue team to the site. "No" says the man, "just tell them to hurry". We don't ask what's the problem, we just both nod and hurry down the trail.
It's 11:10 AM.
Less than 10 minutes later, we're at the "Emergency exit #2", a short cut to the tow path. The trail goes on after that but that's where we expect the rescue team to show up. We wait for a couple of minutes. Nobody is coming.
A tall guy almost running is catching up to us. He is coming from the same direction as us, so he had to pass the couple on his way here. He does not look at us, going super fast on the trail walking with two poles for stability and "tracing" the path. The guy is clearly in a hurry. We scramble out of his way (there is no doubt in my mind that he will just walk through us otherwise) and he disappears in front. As we decide to keep walking, we meet him about 50 meters away from where we saw him first. He is talking to a woman who was walking in the opposite direction, giving her advice on how to exit the path at the "Emergency Exit #2" as she seems exhausted and already tired. This is when I notice his carrying a small "Walkie-talkie" on his belt. I ask "Are you from a rescue team?". He answers in a non-denial way. It seems that he is involved with rescues but not officially. I told him about the couple and the woman injured. "You must have passed them" I say, "as you were coming from that trail when we saw you first". "I saw that couple you're talking about" he smiles, "but they were just blocking the trail. The woman has nothing". My friend and I look at him incredulously. "No, she is really injured. She could not move when we saw her. They are not blocking the trail. They're stuck there...". The smile on the guy's' face vanishes and he turns around quickly. "I thought she was faking it" is what I remember hearing before seeing him disappearing fast on his way back to the woman. We keep going meeting the rescue team lost on the path. They've hiked the long way instead of coming in from the Emergency Exit number #2, they've hiked all the way in. No wonder they could not get there on time. A 10 mn stroll to the woman was transformed in a 35 mn hike through the woods.
We both make a mental note to never get injured on the trail...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Image of a sunny day

I am on my way back from the Immigration office where I went to get my fingerprints taken. Soon, very soon, I'll be an American. The day is sunny and hot. I see a woman about 65 or 70 watering her plants in front of her house. She is wearing a very formal dress, grey with black laces. A dress that would not seem inappropriate at the opera house. She is holding the water hose with all the dignity that her dress confers. Upright and dignified in the molding heat that came onto Washington. The man working in shorts and T-shirt at the other end of the garden seems strangely out of place.