The east coast is apparently simmering down from last week’s record-breaking heat wave. As I’ve said before, the 98 degree weather didn’t bother me. I was, however, irritable on Saturday afternoon when a yappy middle-aged guy tried interviewing me on a deserted, non-air conditioned metro.
The hangover didn’t do me any favors, either. As soon as I walked onto the empty train, a man with wiry glasses, poor posture, and a solid black t-shirt mauled me with questions. Dripping with perspiration, nauseated, and suffocating in the stuffy metro, I was cordial but only gave him short answers. I even put my hair in a bun, a fugly hairdo I avoid at all costs, to scare him away.
“Does this train go downtown?” he asked.
“Oh, why isn’t the train moving?”
“Probably because of track maintenance.”
“Wow, imagine that! I drove all the way here from Dunn Loring to save time, but I guess I’m going to be late anyway! I allowed more than an hour for this trip, yet that seems pointless now,” he said. “Maybe I’ll just drive into D.C., but I think it would hard to be find a parking space. What do you know about D.C. garages? They’re terrible, right?”
At that point, it physically hurt to talk, so I just nodded, smiled, and whipped out “Sisterhood Everlasting,” which didn’t come to my rescue after all.
“You were so brilliant to bring a book,” he said. “I will do that next time. What are you reading, anyway?”
“Chick lit,” I said, and that shut him up…for five seconds.
“I’m Roy, by the way,” he said, extending his hand. “We are just SO lucky we have each other on this awful hot train ride!”
He wasn’t having the silence on my end, as he asked, “Where do you work? Downtown? Where are you going now?”
“The next stop.”
“Boy are you lucky,” he responded. “I have to go all the way to Metro Center and then transfer to Chinatown, that is going to take forever!”
I’d stopped talking to him by then, as I worried I’d lose my cool. Pretty soon it dawned on me that I was getting furious at this guy for being cheerful. It’s rare for me to have that kind of reaction to friendly people, so I began to tense up. At what point in time did I begin disliking so many random D.C. strangers? When did I start feeling so suspicious of others? More than anything, when did I begin feeling annoyed by random acts of kindness on the street?
Could I be experiencing the effects of moving back east? Both of my parents grew up in the northeast and warned me that this would happen. My father, who lived in New York City for much of his young life, always cautioned me against leaving California.
“I love you with all my heart, but you wouldn’t survive in the northeast, Laura,” he said while I was in high school. “You’d hate the cold and have trouble connecting with everyone around you.”
I haven’t even made it to the northeast and I’m already having issues. Dads are never wrong. At the end of the day, I’m responsible for my own behavior. While I may be feeling sick to myself and overheated, it’s bad for me to take that out on a talkative, seemingly lonely guy. Additionally, I won’t knock on the east coast any more than I already have. I’m through complaining about this place.