Wednesday, May 14, 2008
The TBGaithersburg Travel Diary – Part 4
Can't really go into much detail over the reasons for my trip. I had to sign a non-disclosure agreement that actually included the phrase "…no part of these meetings shall be reprinted, restated on…blah, blah, blah, including, but not limited to…personal blogs…" It's like they knew I'd be there! I can say that the two moderators held a total combined age of 345 years. The first guy bore an uncanny resemblance to former slave trader Strom Thurmond – if aged 80 more years. The other one looked and talked just like…this guy.
So, we'll fast forward past Monday and most of Tuesday, which gets us to…
4:15 PM - I took a cab from my hotel to the Shady Grove Metro station. As someone who's lived in Southern California all my life, I'd estimate this is just my tenth time in a cab. We have them out west, it's just that (1) cabs don't really roam the streets in search of fares – if you need one, you call the cab company…they come to you and (2) everybody…everybody…has a car in California. Except the homeless. But, really, where would they park it?
4:25 PM - My ignorance of cab etiquette is on full display. The fare was $9.60 and I pay with a $20. The driver audibly snorts and recoils from my money as if it were soap, while asking if that's all I have. Pretty sure it's still legal tender in this country, Sabu. He gives me $11 back in ones, I tip him three bucks. Was that appropriate? I have no idea.
4:26 PM - Why does every train or subway station smell of blight?
4:30 PM - M'man Josh, who I'll be meeting at the Nationals game, has given me explicit directions – including where to transfer. Transfer? Two trains? Oh, this won't end well. My back-up plan is to follow the mass of Nationals hats, shirts and jerseys to the ballpark. Total number of riders wearing Nationals attire, so far: 0.
4:40 PM - Probably should mention that I'm in a San Diego State windbreaker (a/k/a the sweatshirt and hoodie for men too old to get away with sweatshirts and hoodies) and baggy Jordan shorts (the cargo shorts for men too Black to get away with cargo shorts). The steady stream of professional African-Americans getting on and off the Red Line are shooting me the stink-eye, as if I'm bringing property values down all by myself. Damn it, I'm one of you! I probably make more than you! I could buy and sell all of… I've made my point.
4:45 PM - I'm reminded that I've turned down one formal offer to transfer to our Rockville, Maryland facility a few years ago. Last Christmas, Rockville again pursued me. The future of our San Diego office is, admittedly, a wee bit uncertain. While the thought of no longer being an ethnic novelty is indeed enticing, I just don't know if I could give up the two W's: (1) West Coast start times for sports and (2) white girls.
4:55 PM - Time to change trains and there's still no sign of anyone actually going to the game. The Gallery/Chinatown stop is an insane mass of men and women running for trains that appear to arrive every five minutes and none of them are wearing the things I'd be wearing if I were going to see my favorite team. Yeah, yeah…let's just move on.
5:00 PM - All aboard the Green Line! And, how can I say this delicately? It appears the disposable income of the riders here is demonstrably less than the Red Line riders.
5:15 PM - We reach the Navy Yards stop and, in the blink of an eye, everyone is wearing Nationals gear. It's like Lost when people randomly appear out of nowhere. Tell you what…I'll resolve this clothing conundrum, when the Lost writers explain how it happens on their show. I shan't hold my breath.
5:20 PM - The station spills into a street that's been cordoned off for the game and it leads right to the centerfield entrance for Nationals Park. (As an aside, if ever a stadium name cried out for corporate sponsorship, it's this one. Dodger Stadium and Yankee Stadium at least can claim decades and decades of tradition and brand name recognition. The Nats are here because no one else wanted them. Seems like a natural tie-in with Arby's, no?)
5:25 PM - My plan is to bum around the neighborhood for awhile until Josh shows up. In San Diego, there are dozens of bars within a few blocks of the ballpark. Here in Washington DC, there are dozens of "Coming 2009" signs where watering holes and restaurants will be…eventually. I walked in every direction and nothing was even finished, much less opened – save for a 7-11 and another, generic liquor store that was a stones throw from the left field foul pole. You stay classy, District of Columbia!
5:45 PM - I've been people-watching for 20 minutes and concluded there are three types who attend Nationals games: (1) elderly, well-to-do residents from, I presume, Northern Virginia (2) college-aged kids with nothing better to do and (3) business travelers with no ties to the area. I met two other people out from San Diego who saw my windbreaker and struck up a conversation. Also, Braves fans are outnumbering Nats fans by about 2 to 1.
5:50 PM - I will say that my "last Black baseball fan" gimmick may need to be retired. There are a lot of 'em here, with their saggy jeans and cockeyed caps. Someone unearth Dr. Cosby, quick!
6:00 PM - Josh shows up and we head inside…on "Cheap T-Shirt Night", to boot! Nats 1B Nick Johnson is shown sliding head first on the back, porn 'stache uncluttered from the Georgia red clay. If only it fit. (I need at least an XXL to cover this glistening butterscotch torso, kids. Now, let that be a haunting reminder of my March 30 birthday.)
Next: Washington Nationals vs. Atlanta Braves!