Near my job, there is a Starbucks Coffe Shop, and this one happens to be right above a Metro Station in Southwest DC. I was waiting for the PGA to end today, so I jetted down to 'bucks to get a brew. To my surprise, no one was sitting in the large chairs next to the window that look out over the escalators that lead down to the Metro station. It gave me a great perch from which to people watch.
There was this guy standing at the top of the escalators, wearing a blue Washington Nationals monogram cap, a white t-shirt, and jeans. He was skinny - not just skinny, but "I-just-got-out-of-a-Chinese-reeducation-camp-in-Xinjiang" skinny. And this dude was begging people for money. Not the shake-the-cup-and-play-on-people kind of begging. Just putting out his hand, and asking for money as people went down the escalator.
Most people ignored him. Some gave him money. Some looked nervous and glanced away as they walked by and shook their heads. He lit a smoke and kept begging. He was there the whole time I was.
About 10 feet away was a guy selling flowers - roses and mixed bouquets for $4 and $6 respectively. Every now and then he would call out "Don't forget your flowers," or "don't forget your roses."
A pretty brunette in black pants and a blue-and-white striped top stopped and bought a half dozen red roses. She also gave the beggar some change when she went down the escalator.
Then there was the family of tourists - they might as well have been wearing "WERE NOT FROM HERE" on their shirts.
The mom and the daughter came into Starbucks to use the bathroom while the rest of the group waited out by the escalators. Mom and the daughter emerged a few minutes later, but only after mom had looked at a water bottle that Starbucks wanted $10 for.
I don't know if she really wanted the bottle or whether she was just trying to assuage her guilt. Either way, she and the daughter left and went down the escalator to the Metro with the rest of their troop.
A pretty, auburn-haired girl came in an ordered a Venti Vanilla Latté and sat by the window and talked on her cell phone. A large fat, bald guy in a pink shirt and brown pants passed the beggar and went down the escalator. He looked like a man who didn't want to be bothered.
People came and went, passing this guy begging and the flower guy and me in my perch behind the glass.
There was one girl who looked like she had Cerebral Palsy. She was making her way from the Health and Human Serives Building to the Metro. It took her a long time to get across the street
She made it though. She passed the guy begging for money, and as she did it looked like she aimed her body at the escalator, just trying to make sure she could grasp the rail and get down the stairs. As it carried her down towards the trains, she looked at me. I smiled, but I don't know if she saw me. She was probably the bravest person on the street.
A large, muscular Metro bus driver came in and bought coffee. He was a black dude with a pigtail hanging out from under his "Metro" baseball cap. The pretty girl at the window talked on her cellphone, the beggar lit another smoke, the flower guy kept calling out.
Outside people were making their way home, or coming into the city for whatever adventures they were on. And the PGA still wasn't finished.