Thursday, January 29, 2009

Getting to Work

In the morning, in the winter, in Washington D.C., everything far away looks baby blue and gray.

Up close, from above, my lace-ups look worn down. I should get new ones. I could get a good deal if I look hard enough. There's gotta be a solid shoe store going out of business somewhere in this town.

I walk out the door and pick up The Journal on my way up the stairs. It's in my face now. Out of the basement, and into the recession.

For some special reason I can walk at normal speed on the icy sidewalks. It's a simple technique. You just lower your weight and bend at the knees, and take baby steps, using dry patches when you can. You can't change your speed or direction suddenly or you will lose traction.

I've seen people slip and fall a lot over the past couple of days. One of my boss's bosses broke his back from slipping on ice.

I make it to the Columbia Heights station and slide into a train just as the doors close. Everyone in the car looked up at me, I guess because I was almost running as the doors shut and my scarf got caught in the door.

I switch lines at Gallery Place and get a seat on my new train. I start reading my papers. One article catches my eye, having to do with Financial stocks leading a 2% gain in the markets yesterday. It's already old news to me. I know it's just a hiccup, and the market will correct itself in a matter of hours.

If you can time it right, the volatility of the current market can be extremely lucrative if you buy low and sell high and fast. The thing is, you can make 10 great moves, but it only takes one bad call to undo all of your hard work.

I think back to a customer of mine at the bank. I don't remember his name, just how he used to have this cool, relaxed smile. He was a charming guy and I mean it when I say it was a pleasure serving him. I heard he lost money in the market. The last time I saw him he had this different smile. It was like he was hysterical. And there were moist bags under his eyes, I could tell because they were shining a bit. I haven't seen him since.

The President is calling me a wimp, via newsprint. We need to toughen up, he says. Washington can't handle snow, and Obama is cashing in points and building his image in all the little ways. Respectfully, I have to say I'm more impressed by Putin's judo skills and KGB background than by Obama's ability to pick on the easy target.

Suddenly I notice the stench of the car. It's the smell of garbage day. Not a trash can, but garbage day. The smell of a full bag of garbage that has matured properly, hitting fresh air, and blowing fumes in your face. But it's in an enclosed train car. I struggled to remind myself of that fresh lemon scent every train carried during inaugural weekend.

But the party is over.


Jason Heat said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your writing style on this one.

Nick said...

i enjoyed this

keep up the good work, gentlemen,


AZWiner said...

i loved this.
like a poem.