To say the tourists and other lost souls that regularly stop me to ask how to get to the metro, where the Circulator goes, how much is bus fare, etc.
Lots of people ask me for directions. Especially in April when there are tons of tourists. And in June when there are tons of interns.
Everyone asks me for directions, but especially people that think that I might be from their country or speak their language. This happens so much that now when people approach me I almost automatically turn to them and smile like I am a flight attendant. It doesn’t always work out because sometimes people don’t want directions and instead want to call me Mami or ask for money. Sometimes they turn out to be gypsy fortune tellers. This happened to me three times (or one time, depending on how you count).
The first time I was on the second floor of Target at Columbia Heights. I was shopping for things I had only then realized I needed, like dish towels with seasonal prints. A short brown woman walked directly toward me from the other side of the store. I assumed she was lost and immediately did the flight attendant thing, turn head-and-smile. Then she started talking about me and how she could see that I had big plans or something. Before I knew it she had my hand and was reading my palm. She said it would cost $5. I said I only had a $10 bill. She said she would give me change. I am still waiting for that change. In this case trying to be nice and helpful cost me $10 and a 10 minute conversation about how I was going to be admitted to a PhD program somewhere with a river and I was going to marry a brown man.
The second time it was about 7pm, I was walking back from a bar where I had gotten into a huge argument with a brown man that may have been the one the woman from Target thought I was going to marry. It was dark outside, so it must have been Fall. Around the corner of the YMCA a short brown woman approached me and I thought she looked lost. I did the turn head-and-smile thing and when I saw her in the light, I was it was the same woman that had stopped me at Target. This time I knew she didn’t need help. So I just said “hi” and booked it back to my apartment.
The third time I was on Connecticut Avenue. It was sunny outside and I was walking back to my apartment, hoping to do a ton of work for my PhD program in a city with a river. Then I heard someone call out to me with what I thought was a Spanish accent. The person calling was behind me, so I had to do the full-body turn and smile thing. I did. And I came face-to-face with the same woman from Target and from 17th Street. It wasn’t a Spanish accent, it turns out. I don’t really know what it was but now I think that she was a gypsy and that the reason she called out to me wasn’t that she was lost and thought I spoke her language, but that for some reason she thought I was lost.