A Daily Dose of Zen Sarcasm!

Also, The City That Doesn’t Work

By far, one of the most puzzling things regarding DC is the fact that there seem to be a lot of people out and about during the day who do not seem to be either students or part of the workforce.  Today Herr Meow and I went for a long walk around the Mall area and back, and we encountered more than just a few of these folks.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I understand that DC is also host to the phenomenon called, "I Am Taking a Really Late Lunch Hour, That Starts Around, Like, One, and Lasts Until, Oh, I Don’t Know, Four?"

I understand the need, in a city tailor-made for schmooze and for pretending that power isn’t solely contained within marble halls, to get out and hold meetings in neutral places — places where a person who normally holds all the power in the world might appear to let down his guard because there is delicious barbecue sauce all over his Hermès tie and har, har, har, isn’t he just like you and me?

(Answer: I’m guessing his assistant carries a backup tie for events such as these.)

But, pray tell, what kind of schmoozing and political wrangling could ever be taking place at such pedestrian places as Starbucks, Così or Port City Java (a.k.a The Clone Coffeeshops), seriously? 

And if the answer is, "Tons!", then I want someone to come forward and tell me, because what I saw today was kind of a testament to the fact that DC is the City That Never Works.


1:45 pm, Thursday, Clone Coffeeshop.

Two twenty-somethings, not in any way hanging out with each other sit at prime spots within the store– that is, they totally took over the comfy couches, the rat bastards.  I got the feeling that the dude was giving the chick some majorly covetous looks that she was deftly ignoring or soaking up with the magic rays of her SuperDuper Blunt-Cut Bangs.

He kept on typing something random into his computer and looking up  toward the street/SuperBangs’s décolletage–real subtle, buddy.

SuperBangs –who was closer to me and therefore in my line of snoopage– kept on consulting something that looked like Work, but then seemed to be SuperPoking all of her friends.  And might I add that she seemed to be mightily popular, because this went on for a long time.  She also made a high art out of ignoring our seemingly-feckless hero despite his best efforts. 

She also had to pee at some point.


So to recap: two able-bodied and presumably healthy young people (one of them nubile, even!), hanging out seemingly doing nothing but pecking away at their nice laptop computers and drinking overpriced coffee, all this on a quiet Thursday afternoon, way past lunchtime –which neither of them were having, either.

Were they students?  If so, what were they doing in Capitol Hill?  I mean, if all you’re going to do is sit on your ass, there are coffeeshops available closer to that side of town, right?

Were they Hill staffers?  If so, surely someone needs them?  I mean, after all it’s the congressmen and senators who get to slack off– not the staff, right?  Right???

But like them, I see many many others, day in and day out– doing nothing but presumably existing and taking up oxygen, and looking busy catching up on Facebook but not really doing anything.

Why?  Why does this happen? 

And more importantly, where do I sign up?

This entry was published on May 15, 2008 at 9:14 pm and is filed under DC Dukkha. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Also, The City That Doesn’t Work

  1. That’s an interesting question…perhaps they were students. I frrequently went to coffee shops and sat for hours on end…that that was usually if I had a long break in between or an evening class.
    You see that sort of stuff pretty frequently here in Germany, too. It used to be that shops would close at 12 and re-open at 2 or 3.
    Everywhere I go, there are a lot of people…during the middle of the day…and I often wondered if people in Germany worked EVER. I never saw people working, but they were always shopping! Strange isn’t it? And the worst part of it? They had no sense of urgency. They take their time doing everything!

  2. Interesting post… great writing!

  3. well, a few years ago, that would’ve been me you saw in the coffee shop on a weekday b/n 9 to 5. i was a grad student working a job with a very flexible schedule and i would spend my days off hanging out with my laptop at cosi or starbucks on penn ave. se, a few blocks from where i lived. i hung out alone mostly because my friends were M-F 9-to-5-ers so our schedules were very different.

  4. You’ve been tagged, by the way, at Prairie Dreams – sorry! 🙂

  5. They could be teleworking…I work from home on Mondays, and at first I would go to the coffee shop because I thought I wanted “atmosphere.”
    It got too expensive (I felt obligated to buy a latte) and also, you can’t sit in your underwear at Starbucks. 🙂

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