A Blog Mainly About Food

If by "mainly" you mean "sometimes"

Monday, January 03, 2005

My Saturday Night...

... went down like this.

I spent 20 minutes waiting for a bus that didn't come, and ended up hailing a cab to Wonderland in Columbia Heights. I was excited, because I'd never been there and had heard good things.

Upon getting to the bar I realized that I didn't have much cash. I asked the bouncer where the nearest ATM was and he sent me 4 blocks west, to the corner of 13th & Irving, right across from the Columbia Heights metro station.

I am a knucklehead when it comes to walking alone. I mean, come on, I'm both invincible and immortal, right? So I set off to the ATM thinking nothing. On my way over I was verbally accosted by a crazy woman, who yelled "What the hell is your problem?" at me for five minutes from across the street (I still don't know what my problem is). I thought to myself, in my best Star Wars voice, "I've got a bad feeling about this." But I kept walking, a little faster this time.

When I arrived at the ATM, there was a Latino *ahem* gentleman standing in front of it. There was red minivan double parked by the ATM, and there were a couple more guys standing around the car, speaking loudly in Spanish. The guy at the ATM turned to me and said something, also in Spanish. I replied in my broken espanol that "yo no habla." He asked me in English if I was Latino and then cancelled his transaction.

That was a tell, right there. I should have left, but I guess I felt the need to see how this drama would play out.

The guy went to the minivan and stood outside it. I can't remember if he got in, but I do think he reached in at some point. I took out money and turned around, searching for a more well-lit road to walk back on. He yelled something at me ("Hey buddy!" I believe) and then started walking, then jogging, towards me.

Well, there were two ways to react. Respond or run. And I did the smart thing and ran, booking it for the metro station. He started running after me, but after that I didn't really pay attention to where he was. I just ran into the Metro and hid for about 10 minutes. Hy heart was beating out of my chest. I left the station and ran back to Wonderland, cursing Columbia Heights and the Mara Salvatruchas/Vatos Locos/whoever.

Is it racist of me to assume that the guy was in a gang and intending violence? Maybe. So what? Sometimes a spade is a spade. The last time something like this happened I was all-out drunk, so its hazy. This time I was stone cold sober and the incident is etched in my memory--the dude's blue bandana (glad I didn't wear mine out--was thinking about it), the red van, his friend talking to the driver of the car... I'm more or less certain that had I done the macho thing and confronted the people, I'd be $67 poorer and a little bruised up. Or worse.

So, I think I'm going to try and limit the amount of solo walking I do in sketchy neighborhoods from now on. And I don't think I'll be going back to Wonderland unaccompanied any time soon.

On the plus side, the year can only get better, right?