So, I usually take the day for running errands or seeing a movie or both. I never know exactly when the crew will get to me, as I'm surely the smallest gig they have, and they work me in whenever. So, they've appeared at my door as early as 9 AM and as late as 3:45. So, I usually clear out for the day.
I was getting nowhere, and a little pissed. Surely this girl was on commission, why wasn't she standing next to me, pointing out some of my choices? Didn't she care to help me? The answer, of course, is no. Nobody in any service job in the District cares about giving any kind of service; I've dealt with that since moving here. Even the cashier at the drug store, or the grocery store, or anywhere, will never acknowledge that you are standing in front of her with something to buy, she'll just thrust out her hand to take your money or your credit card without a word. I should be used to this behavior by now, but I'm not. I spent too many years in retail (15!) and too many years in food service (13!); if I had treated anyone the way we are now routinely treated by service people, I would have lost those jobs within a week.
OK, so another five minutes have passed, as I wander helplessly back and forth in front of this huge display wall, pulling glasses down, putting them back up, and wondering why I should be giving my money to this company. The answer, of course, is that I shouldn't be. So I didn't. Ten minutes after going into the store, ready to spend a hundred dollars, I was back on the street ripping up the coupon.
Maybe I'll find a Lenscrafters out in the suburbs with better service...
So, I now have over an hour and a half to kill before the movie starts. I take a leisurely stroll down the city street (it's brisk, but not too bad, I like the cold). I ultimately reach the movie theatre. This is one of those multi-plexes (aren't they all?), brand new, with a large lobby which it shares with two restaurants, a sushi bar, a Haagen Dazs ice cream parlor, and a Bed, Bath and Beyond. In other words, it's a large lobby with lots of traffic. Sadly, though, no place to sit. No benches, no chairs, nothing. The box office of the theatre, which should be open because the first show of the day starts in 10 minutes, is not. So, I sit down in the corner, my back against the wall, out of everyone's way, and pull out my Newsweek (it's four weeks old, and they are predicting Obama will soon be dropping out of the race).
Well, there is no box office person in sight, but the security guard pops up quick enough.
Gomer: Sir, they don't like you to sit in here.
It's another frustrating thing I've noticed about the service industry. Once an employee is taught one thing, that is the only thing he knows. He can only respond to a situation one way. There was no thought of perhaps trying to solve the problem of no box office employee, the only problem here was somebody breaking a rule he was supposed to enforce.
So, I shrugged, got up, and left the building.
I wasn't heartbroken to have missed the movie, as it probably saved me 18 bucks, since I am physically incapable of attending a movie without popcorn in my lap and a Diet Something at my side. So, I wandered out onto busy 7th St, and found myself standing in front of Clyde's, one of the many new restaurants which have popped up in that area. Overpriced, as most places are in the District, but I talked myself into going inside for a light lunch. The restaurant was a little busy, as it was now the lunch hour, but certainly not full.
Me: One for lunch, please.
Fine, up I go, behind a gaggle of business-suited gents. I finally reach the desk, and am seated where a Party of One is almost always seated: at a yucky, very public table. Can't really expect to have a cozy booth all to my lonesome, so I don't blink when I am put at a long banquette with individual tables spread about. No one but me has consented to sit there.
nuh-uh. I calmly get up, put on my coat, pick up my backpack, and leave the restaurant.
It's too early to head back home, so I wander down the street to Chinatown.