New View (out of the office window)

(Written October 10, 2003) The little company gets bought by the bigger company, which is in turn gobbled up by an even bigger one. Same job, same place, but there have been 3 different company names in the 7 years I’ve been there. Now we are no longer even in the same location. Many of us former smaller companies, at different locations, have been “consolidated” into a single location. Unfortunately, the old location was Crystal City (bad enough), but now we are in a brand new office building in South East DC (next to the Navy Yard). So I’ve given up driving to work (parking at $300+ month plus the uncertainties of the 14th St bridge bottleneck) and am learning about the Metro life style. At least I’m getting caught up on some of my reading during the commute now, so it is not all bad.

A good point of the move however, was a totally unexpected one - the view out of my window. I can see the Southwest freeway about 3 or 4 blocks away, and there is a good view of the Capitol right behind that, along with some other large government buildings that I haven’t identified yet. But the good part is that I have a small field of green and trees immediately outside my window. It is a nearly vacant block with only a single building on one corner - the “Star Market - Groceries, cold beer and wine”. I’ll let you guess how many “groceries” they sell. Bars on all the windows, and the actual store area inside is about the size of a large closet, with the cashier sitting behind bullet-proof glass. You can buy potato chips and the like there, so I guess those do count as “groceries”.

But the rest of the block is a little patch of overgrown nature - right there in the midst of the concrete jungle. There is trash in it, of course, but most of that is hidden by the green stuff. There is also a regular crew of nature lovers that inhabit this “park”. It appears they have a well worn path to the center of the lot where they are completely hidden from view by anyone on the street. But I guess they haven’t yet gotten used to the idea that there are people in that big new building next to their park.

One of my co-workers brought in a pair of binoculars, and it has been educational. Any appreciation of nature is apparently enhanced with the favorite recreational substance of choice. They come and go all day with their crack pipes and needles. And lest you make any unwarranted racial assumptions, this is a racially diverse group who seem to be quite the model for inter-racial harmony.

I watched 3 guys come in for a session a couple of days ago. You could tell that this was serious business, as they were purposeful and focused as they pulled out their supplies and made their preparations. One possibly middle-aged tall guy put on his reading glasses (giving him quite the scholarly air) and commenced to do something with the hypodermic. The activity involved moving it back and forth between two locations, and I can only presume he was practicing good hygiene by repeatedly flushing the needle - hopefully with more than just water… One of the other guys removed his belt for use as a tourniquet, and I saw them pull out a lighter and burn something (my ignorance here - would he likely have been preparing heroin or crack?) The second guy helped the big guy put the belt on his arm and proceeded to inject him. It was all a very serious business from the intent looks on their faces, almost like a sacred ritual. Then they removed the belt and put it on the other arm and started all over again. Maybe he was getting a double-shot, or perhaps they couldn’t find a useable vein on the first arm. I must confess my ignorance in these matters.

Another guy in the office watched a different little drama several days ago. Not clear what they had done in the park, but of two guys that walked out together one was barely making it. Walking out between parked cars along the edge of the block this guy just sprawled back over the hood of a car. His partner finally peeled him off and got him on his feet again. Partly across the street the guy sprawled out again, right in the middle of the street. His buddy threw up his hands and walked away, leaving the body laying in the middle of the street. He soon thought better of it and circled back and scraped the guy up again. After a bit the guy was finally able to navigate on his own, although it was in the mode of 3 steps forward / 2 steps back. But this is what set this guy apart: during this whole time he was clutching a bottle of Schlitz malt liquor. Sprawled out on the hood of the car or laying in the street, he never once lost his grip on the bottle, broke it or spilled it. This guy was a true Professional.

Ahh, but the latest rumor is that my little island of green will soon be replaced by a Marriott or some such. More’s the pity - I prefer it as it is.

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