Over the weekend I took a wee photography road trip with my friend Craig. I don't have a car, so road trips are always an awesome distraction from my rather rooted-in-D.C. life. (I have been cranky about this lately. I'm not feeling any less cranky about it today, which is why I'm going to follow that up by saying: I lived in New York for years and never felt bummed or annoyed or boxed in by my carlessness and roadtriplessness. Sometimes D.C. seems so irredeemably small.)
I do love me a road trip, and road trips that involve photography are my favorite kind of road trips. This was a road trip that involved photography and exploring industrial ruins, another thing that I love. Unfortunately, it also involved winter, which involves being cold, which is something I hate above all things. Okay, not all things per se, but above many many things. Most things. A whole lot of things.
It also involved my needing to get to Baltimore on Saturday to meet Craig, and since the MARC doesn't run on weekends (because that would be smart and convenient), this meant taking the Greyhound. *sigh* Twenty minutes into the ride that was supposed to take forty-five minutes the bus grinds to a halt, along with all the other traffic on 295. Fire rescue vehicles, ambulances, police cars.... lots and lots of lights coming up from behind. The traffic inches along for an hour. No traffic coming from the other direction either-- 295 closed in both directions. Just as we were inching towards the exit everyone was being directed to take I saw the medivac helicopter land on the highway up ahead. Never a good sign.
So I arrived late. He went to pick up the rental car, and I got to take in a little bit of the Bawlmer bus stop flavah. Ten people sitting on the bench outside, waiting for their rides to show up in the late afternoon sun. A woman in her forties comes out by the benches, wanting to smoke a cigarette, and wanting to engage someone in conversation. How to engage a bunch of people you don't know in conversation? Ask a question! A silly one!
"Y'all waiting for the Peter Pan?"
This is not the side where the busses come. All the busses are clearly on the other side of the building. Where she came from. Everyone looked at her, briefly, with that pained look on their faces. Several men told her that the busses were actually around the other side.
"I was just wonderin', cousin I seen the Peter Pan sign up there." Points to wall behind benches. It also says Greyhound. Long pause. "I liked-ed the Peter Pan. They use to go to Philly. Back in the day. I wish they was still driving to Philly. The Peter Pan."
The same men tried to explain that Greyhound had bought out Peter Pan and they were now the same company. Too much for her to process. "I liked the Peter Pan. They was cheaper than Greyhound and they had videos on the bus, you know... the little televisions with DVDs? I liked the Peter Pan to Philly." She rambled on like that for a while... it was kind of regular rambling so I was able to go back to my book and block her out.... until she started screaming about the birds.
At the end of the bench were two dudes-- dorky dudes in their late twenties, dressed in black, one kind of overweight, long stringy hair, probably played a lot of D&D (or the massively-multiplayer equivalent)... One of them had a bag of goldfish crackers and he'd thrown a couple to the flock of seagulls (the regular kind, not the British Invasion New Wave kind), who had swooped down to try to snatch them. At which point the woman who liked to take Peter Pan to Philly freaked the hell out.
AAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! THE BIRDS!!!! THE BIRDS!!!!! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! I'M AFRAID OF BIRDS!!!!! AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
She started kind of leaping sideways, like a cat, away from the birds, continuing to yell:
I got a thing about birds! I'm scared of birds! Why you feeding them birds?? Why you feeding them? Why? Why?! Stop! STOP! STOP FEEDING THEM BIRDS! I'm scared of birds! They come down and snatch at you, snatch at what you got in your hands! Snatch at you! Birds will do that! I'm scared of birds! Why you gots to feed them bird where people be walking! You feed them birds someplace else!
Whoa, Nellie. She was not happy about the addition of bird into the mix. Everyone kind of looked at her wide eyed for a moment. Then the man sitting next to me got up and clapped and stomped at the gulls until they flew away. The long haired dude stopped feeding them. The woman, still skittish, went back to talking about inane things... television shows, movies she'd watched riding the Peter Pan, the weather. After a while things seemed to calm down until she turned around and saw that the gulls had regathered on the sidewalk.
Aaaaaahhhhhhh!!!! The birds! The birds are back! I'm scared a birds!! I'm scared, I got a thing about them birds!!!! I got to go back inside where there aren't any people feeding the birds right where people are walking. Why would you do that? Why would you do that where people are walking??
She was truly outraged. Then she turned to the man who had stomped them away before and asked that he help her by escorting her past those scary birds to the inside of the bus terminal. Ever the gentleman, he did as she asked. Eventually a geeky guy in a broken down Honda picked up the two geeky long haired dudes. A woman dressed entirely in skin-tight black, white, and grey camouflage and black go go boots smoked a cigarette and was picked up by a guy sporting a gold grill. The bird lady didn't come back. Craig showed up in a sporty rental car, the rental place having run out of economy cars. Everyone looked, commented on how nice it was. As we drove off the gentleman who'd helped the bird lady was still waiting for his ride.