Friday, March 14, 2008

where there's smoke, there's hitchhiking

While walking home from the salaried job Wednesday evening, I came across a crime scene. I approached the yellow police tape after stopping by Target to pick up a few items (twice in one week!) and asked what happened. The policeman guarding the scene didn't say much besides telling me that, my 12-pack of toilet paper and laundry soap were to go nowhere.

"How long will the wait be?" I asked.

"As long as it takes," he replied.

Well, at least if I needed to take a whiz, I was well prepared. (Yeah, I totally just said that.)

So, I waited. As others approached, though, I began to find out what was going on. Apparently, someone got shot in the face on a bus in broad daylight. Not tight. However, when I tried to research crimes going on in Columbia Heights around 5 p.m. on March 12, I couldn't find anything about a shooting...so I don't know how accurate this is. Regardless, though, it was nice of the cop to just let us think someone got shot in the face on a bus in broad daylight. Ace work, buddy!

Anyway, thinking that would be my sole encounter with police tape this week, I went home, made a toilet paper nest and curled up for a nap. (Um, just kidding about that toilet paper nest...or am I?! I got the quilted!)

But, as with most things in life, I would soon find out I was wrong.

My Thursday morning started at 4 a.m. when a slew of sirens disturbed my sweet, sweet slumber (in that toilet-paper nest). And while I hear sirens quite often in my head due to living on one of Washington's main streets, something about these sirens was different. Mainly, they didn't stop. So, I peeked out my window. There were hoses and a couple of firetrucks strewn about the street.

"Is my building on fire?" I thought. But having not seen a flood of people on the street, I decided it probably wasn't and went back to bed. Sleep first, safety second.

Luckily for me, I was right. It wasn't my building that hosted the zillion-alarm fire, but a building about 2 blocks away*, which is where I ran into the second coming of the yellow police tape.

"I guess I won't be taking the bus today," I thought, as I began to walk.

When I finally reached the edge of Rock Creek Park, where the residences end and a vast, bus-stopless stretch of road begins, I ran into the mob. There were about 30 or so people waiting for an alternate bus. Some tried to flag down cabs, but this being DC, the cabs just kept going. (God forbid they do their job.) I waited for a few minutes before remembering I had workable legs, so I decided to just walk another 25 minutes to get to my office. Little did I know, however, that I would miss all the action -- all the Third World action, that is!

Apparently, after a while, when the bus didn't come (of course it didn't!), people started getting restless. And with no cabs, people began to get desperate -- so desperate, in fact, that their eyes must have exuded despair and desperation. Then something magical began to happen. According to a man I met while waiting for the bus to come home later that day, people began to hitchhike!

He relayed that he got a ride across Rock Creek Park that morning by some HVAC repairmen in a rusty white van! He told me one woman hopped into a random Toyota, another got into a shiny Saturn, and even more people piled into other vehicles! In this time of crisis, DC dropped its uptight, First-World distrust of others, and started hopping into gypsy cabs, a practice that's standard in the developing world!

"It was kind of cool," the man at the bus stop told me later that day. "Actually, it was really cool."

Indeed, my bus-stop friend, indeed. I can't believe I missed it. I love a good gypsy cab ride. Now, if only we could make it last forever. However, short of rampant arson, I don't think it will. I mean, even I'm not crazy enough to start burning down homes to make DC cooler. Maybe if I just hop in unlocked cars as they stop at stoplights? That could work. Well, until I get pistol-whipped by someone who didn't readily give up their illegal firearms to the cops...dammit.

*By the way, to donate goods, clothes, food, etc., to those who lost their homes in the blaze, you can drop stuff off at Pfeiffer's Hardware located at 3219 Mount Pleasant St.

2 comments:

John said...

thought you might like this, in case you missed it earlier this week: http://www.slate.com/id/2186335/

Marissa said...

LOL! I actually did miss that. Nice.