NOTE: I hereby grant permission for all archiving and other uses of this work, public or private, free or paid, in any format whether existing now or to be invented in the future, so long as a copy of this note and credit to "theGreatxIam" is given and no alteration is made to the body of the work. Copyright 2002, theGreatxIam
There are some things to be said for starting work at 6:30 in the morning. But almost none of them are nice.
I get to the office before Katie Couric has batted her first eyelash of the day for only one reason: My boss is a USDA-certified Grade A idiot.
I am not exaggerating. You see, I actually work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In D.C. And my boss has been bounced from agency to agency within the department for 20 years. He's an idiot, but so much of an idiot that no one wanted to keep him long enough to go through all the steps it would take to fire a civil service employee. Instead, they were so desperate that they'd even recommend him for promotions -- as long as that sent him to another agency. And so it went until he finally came to rest in my little corner of the Ag Department.
Our job? We give money to McDonald's so it can advertise abroad. Hey, don't complain to me. I pay taxes too, you know.
There's not a lot to the job. Every few weeks you cut a bunch of checks. In between, you get copies of the ads our tax dollars have purchased and file them. About the only way to screw up is to give money to some company that didn't contribute to the current president's campaign. Considering that most of the big fast-food chains are bipartisan bribers, there's not much to worry about.
It's foolproof -- or at least we thought so. Until we got a fool for a boss.
His screwups are too numerous to mention. My favorite was when he decided to take the initiative to do some overseas marketing directly instead of just shoveling out cash. He figured he had a great deal because he got a few thousand surplus posters showing a diagram of a cow cut up into various pieces and parts, and he got one of our summer interns to slap stickers for several American chains on the appropriate hunks of cow. Very cute. But the country where he had the first batch posted didn't think so.
Those Hindus in India are sensitive that way.
However, what I wanted to tell you about was how I came to work a 6-to-2 shift.
It's simple. The boss figured that if farmers get up at dawn, so should we.
But my agency has nothing to do with farmers. The only manure we see is the stuff our boss spreads through his memos. And the people we actually are dealing with don't appreciate it when they can't get us after 11 a.m. Pacific time.
None of this makes any difference to the idiot, which is why I spend the wee hours of every weekday morning trying to come up with nice things to say about this schedule.
I've been on this shift for two years last Wednesday, and in all that time I'd come up with exactly one nice thing: The subway isn't very crowded.
That means a guaranteed seat for everyone, which is quite a luxury, at least in the tourist season. D.C. has subway stations that could hide the Goodyear blimp, but there are never enough seats to go around when the juvenile delinquents and peripatetic geriatrics of every state in the nation descend on the capital to buy cheesy souvenirs and stare up Lincoln's nose. It's a mess, but one those of us on the earlybird shift are spared.
We're a cozy group, those who rumble underground while day is breaking overhead. With only a few changes day to day because someone missed their regular train by a minute, the same 60 or so people ride with me every day. Not all in the same train car, of course, but most have their favorite spot to wait on the platforms, so even the makeup of each carload doesn't change much, day to day.
There are, oh, probably 18 or so regulars in the lead car, the one I ride most often. Aside from those unfortunate enough to work for idiots, most people stuck on dawn patrol are those with the least seniority and the least clout with their bosses -- in other words, young women. (Yeah, yeah, equal opportunity -- but that just means they gotta hire women. It doesn't keep Washington's bureaucratic chauvinists from doing whatever they can afterward to screw them -- figuratively if they can't do it literally.)
So every weekday morning I ride far beneath the purple skies with a dozen and a half or so women, mostly young. Mostly good looking, too.
Sure, I look. Oh, I don't leer or anything. But what else am I going to do? Read the paper? Plenty of boring hours at work to do that. So I just sit and observe. I try not to be too obvious, like I'll use the windows as mirrors sometimes, or concentrate on the women who are reading papers, so there's less chance they'll catch me at it.
Hey, wait, this is making me sound like some kind of pervert. It's not like that, I swear. It's just ordinary people watching, except I'm lucky enough to have some very pretty people to watch.
Take Stephen King Lady (she's got one of his books open constantly. Either she's an incredibly slow reader or this dude has written more novels than there are wattles in Strom Thurmond's neck). This woman is maybe 30 -- she really looks 35, but you have to make allowances for the really awful lighting on the train. Anyway, she's nothing spectacular for beauty -- nice auburn hair, but she keeps it locked up in a bun too often, and her mouth is too wide for my taste. (Sue me: I'm one of those weirdos who doesn't think Julia Roberts is such hot stuff.) But what Stephen King Lady does have is a pair of legs that would make Tina Turner piss green. I'm talking 60 inches of leg on a 5'4 woman. I'm talking legs so fine we should tear down the Washington Monument and build 20-story replicas of these instead. And she must know what she's got because she puts them on display every day. My favorite is the dark green skirt that comes just above her knees, but when she sits it rides up to mid-thigh. Then she crosses her legs and the slit opens up and it's cut so high I half expect to see her bra strap at the top. Most of the times she wears that skirt she pairs it with sheer black hose that have a few tiny butterflies embroidered up the back, flying above strappy green platform soles.
And there's Red, who's got a great body. But she must be tired of guys staring her in the tits, so she pulls their attention up with one wild hairstyle after another and a different shade of red every week. She's the most dangerous one for me, because it's tough to hide it when you're staring right at someone's face -- and her face is worth the stare. Skin the color of fresh cream, a splatter of strawberry freckles across her cheeks like a pink Milky Way. Huge Bambi eyes, thick lashes batting inside copper eyeshadow. Lips like plush satin pillows gleaming wet.
But every girl on the train has her own special allure, if you ask me. Riding the train is like having dinner every day in a Ben & Jerry's: Hmmm, which flavor will it be today?
I gotta confess, though: I do like chocolate.
There are several black women on the train, in all shades. My eye was most often drawn to the one I call Cleopatra, because she carries herself like a queen.
Tall -- maybe even 6 feet -- she still manages to avoid that string bean look. Instead, she's beautifully proportioned. Proud breasts balanced by an ass so tempting it makes me flex my fingers each time I see it. Luscious legs, arms with just enough definition to show that she works out but she's not a musclehead. Oval face with wide, flaring nose, plump lips, almost almond-shaped eyes half-lidded under a high forehead capped by a short, frizzy Afro. Her skin is amazing -- clear, unblemished, absolutely uniform in color. And what a color! Almost as rich as cherrywood, with an undertone of amber that glows like honey in the shadows.
Cleopatra moves like a sunbeam, gliding through space, there but not quite there. Her clothes are always crisply pressed pleats or fluttery whispers of chiffon or softly draping cotton -- in other words, whatever she wears, it's always the essence of the material's nature, as if she was at one with the basic identity of the fabric. And though she's never flamboyantly sexy in her choices, there's a subtlety to them that purrs erotically. A glimpse of her chiseled clavicle is more alluring than another woman's busting-out cleavage; her exquisitely turned ankle under a long dress more enticing than the acres of flesh on a Brazilian beach. She leaves you with the distinct impression that there's a lot going on beneath the surface.
OK, so I'm a little obsessed with this woman. Trust me, she's worth obsessing over. Of course, I might not be so overboard if I'd had a date in the last six months. Having to get to bed at 9 p.m. is not conducive to a great love life in a city where working past 8 is SOP and so the dating is just getting started when "West Wing" ends.
It hadn't occurred to me that the women I ride in with are in the same boat as I am -- until last Friday.
It was one of those awful D.C. days when it can't make up its mind whether to be rainy or hot so it settles for a bit of both. The mugginess wrapped you in its straitjacket as soon as you got outdoors. You wanted to go out in nothing but your skivvies. But you just knew that by the afternoon it would be pouring, so you had to lug your raincoat and umbrella along.
Cleopatra was juggling an umbrella, a raincoat, a briefcase and a newspaper. Even for someone as graceful as Cleo, it was too much. She almost skewered Red with her umbrella as she made her way down the aisle.
.... There is more of this story ...