Monday, August 28, 2006

Silent recess

On my way to Chinatown this morning, I pass a small kindergarten playground. There are a couple of swings in a large patch of grass but all the kids are ignoring them, looking at the sidewalk though the metal fence that encloses the garden. There is a giant hole in the sidewalk and a crew of two is repairing some water pipes. The kids are clearly fascinated by the spectacle and all of them are completely still, silent as far as I can tell. Ten kids, all about 3 or 4 years old, boys and girl, looking at the work these men are doing. It must look like a giant playground, complete with mud and white pipes. A playground for adults. Irresistible for kids at any age.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Young capitalists

On a bike ride this weekend, I am planing on biking up to the lake at the end of Rock Creek Park. I've made my way to Meadowbrook Stable, readying myself for the upcoming 15 miles. It is quite hot and humid and there are only few people out. A small kid is standing on a picnic table, with a large sign advertising lemonade. She is very cute, smiling and looking at people passing by. Hard to resist indeed. I stop to buy a 25 cents glass of lemonade. Her mom presides over the transaction. I give her 30 cents, explaining that this includes the tip. The child is confused but the mother smiles and thanks me. She blames the weather for the lack of foot traffic. Clearly, not many people are out in the sun today. In any case, it looks that she will soon run out of supply. The business will probably close early.

The ride ended up with a flat tire after mile 35. I did the last 5 miles by bus. The next morning I make my way to the bike shop to get the tire fixed. The road is empty but two kids are there selling lemonade and cookies, sitting in front of their house. "How's business?" I ask, thinking of yesterday's girl that had set up shop on the bike path, clearly looking for costumers. The two boys seem happy "We had 3 people coming already!" The fact that this street is only used by locals living within one block is of no concern to them. Their lemonade is more expensive (a whooping 50 cents a glass) but nice and cold.
Already two completely different business models.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I'm saving your life, bitch!

On my way back from work. It is getting dark, a mixture of black and red that makes things and people almost invisible.
I'm driving, hungry and eager to be home. I saw some movement in the middle of the intersection in front. The light is green and there are no car.
I flashed my lights to high beams to see better and I can now see a woman pushing her bike. She is crossing, dressed in dark color, probably en-route to the nearby club.
Another flash to warn her that she is totally invisible to traffic but that flash is misunderstood and she raises her hand to give me the finger. I gave it back to her resisting the urge to think that I should have zoomed by her and her bike.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Superman does not want to die

I saw him jogging in the street in the middle of the morning traffic. He was approaching the "ID-crisis" intersection where all the streets change their names: U Street becomes Florida Ave and Georgia Ave becomes 7th Street. An oddity with a poetic charm.
He seemed confused but his path was clearly aware of the cars zooming by. He made his way across the intersection avoiding collisions after collisions. As the light changed, and on the point of fighting traffic coming in a different direction, I saw him jumping on the sidewalk, smiling widely in celebration of his victory. He had won the DC equivalent of the Pampluna's running with the bulls. His torn and dirty T-shirt underlines the futility of his uncelebrated battle.