I'd been in D.C. for only about two hours when my old stomping grounds (hate that phrase) did me a favor by being really, really weird, just like I'd remembered it to be.
I was sitting in a little faux-park in Dupont Circle, one of those cement spaces with benches & pigeons where businesspeople can escape their cubicles & eat lunch outside on sunny days, smack in the middle of crazy traffic of both the vehicular & pedestrian varieties. I was eating a bowl of meatballs & rice from Shophouse, which I lovingly refer to as "Asian Chipotle," while waiting for a friend to join me, when a normal-looking middle-aged woman sat down on the bench next to me.
She was... well, a normal-looking middle-aged woman in every sense of the word. Chin-length grey hair, yoga capris, a puffy jacket, clogs. She looked like she could've been my mother, if I permitted my mother to leave the house wearing clogs (love you, Mom). I wouldn't have thought anything special of her, except...
When she sat down, I heard her mutter, "No change" - but still, nothing registered on my weird-o-meter. Maybe she had a meter to feed & was aggravated to realize she couldn't? Or hates Barack Obama? Or... something? Sometimes people talk to themselves (love you, Mom). NBD, right?
Thirty seconds later, I heard her say it again: "No change." I couldn't see a phone or an earpiece, but I assumed she was taking a call by Bluetooth - or was a crazy person. DC is prone to both of those types of individuals, so again, not a huge deal.
But then, for the third time: "Still no change."
That's when it hit me: This woman was surveilling something - or someone. As I tried to process what was happening, she spotted her target. Though I couldn't make out everything she said over the jackhammering going on a block away, what I made out was approximately this: "Subject is approaching near Metro. He's wearing a short leather jacket and brown shoes. He has a military-style haircut & appears to be about 30 years old." Unfortunately, try as I might to identify the subject of her surveillance, I couldn't figure out who she was talking about without looking like a total busybody.
Obviously, my train of thought from there went like this:
- "Am I on Betty White's Off Their Rockers? That show where old people prank young people? That could totally be happening right now. Play it cool, Kate, play it cool."
- "Holy shit, this is just like Law and Order. Plainclothes detectives! Who else within my line of sight is an undercover police officer? Is this a drug bust or a sex scandal? Wait, is this Scandal?!"
- "Tweet this immediately. Duh."
- "Things like this happen all the time in D.C., remember? My God, I miss this shit."