Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bagels and commuting

So, this little place on Connecticut might be my downfall. Two days ago, I discovered Cafe International. It's completely non-descript, and probably the only "international" thing about it is the staff, who appear to all be Asian, which really doesn't say anything about whether they're from another country or not. The place has your basics -- bagels, coffee, muffins, croissants, and later in the day, sandwiches, which I have yet to try. There's very little that looks exciting about this place.

But, oh, how I have missed bagels! And I am yet to get used to sitting down at home and eating breakfast and consuming enough caffeine to get me through the day all before my 8 a.m. departure time for the Metro. Don't get me wrong, I'm very supportive of WMATA's prohibition on food and drink. I detest rats, and I don't want to see them skittering across the tracks as they do beneath the platforms of some other cities, which will remain nameless. However, in my previous life, my routine was to make coffee and pita toast at home, then bring them with me to work. My commute, if you can call it that, was a 2.5-mile drive that took about seven minutes -- in my own, rodent-free car.

But back to this cafe. For two days in a row now, I have skipped breakfast at home, telling myself that I'm not hungry so early and can't have coffee with me on the Metro anyway. But I have to wonder if really I actually wanted to wait so that I could consume a warm, freshly toasted blueberry bagel upon exiting the Metro. That, combined with my large coffee, cost me a total of $4.28, a small price to pay for pure, bagel-induced happiness and the gradual defogging that comes with coffee enjoyed over time instead of gulped down in a rush. I'm not going to do the math to figure out what kind of a pricey habit this could become.

On a related note, recent observations of the D.C. Metro:

1) You can never hear the conductor mumbling the name of the upcoming station, so what's the point? And because of that, does everyone else feel compelled to look up every single time the train stops to read the platform signs and make sure they haven't missed their stop?

2) I really like being a D.C. commuter. It makes me feel important to get on the Metro every day and ride it to work.

3) Some of the escalators are obscenely long. This often makes me wonder how far underground I really am. At Woodley Park, for instance, I ascend no less than three escalators every morning. Sometimes, Metro escalators don't work. And then some crazy, who's probably both strung out and hung over (at 3 p.m.), starts yelling his entire wobbly way down the narrow escalator, "Why doesn't this work? Who runs this place?" (This happened Sunday somewhere downtown. Probably typical, but kind of unnerving).

4) During rush hour at the Grosvenor stop, the trick to getting a seat is to wait for every other train, because every other originates there instead of the end of the line. But, who's ever going to do that? I mean, who's actually going to let a train -- even if it's packed to the gills -- leave the station without getting on?

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