Those of us who are native Washingtonians remember the days when people like cabbies and security guards had two topics of conversation: Politics and Redskins. The old school guys had the scoop on everything, and chatting with them was always a learning experience.
In my office building we had a legendary security guard named Bill, who was respected and adored by everyone. He was in his 80s when I started working there in 2007, and we became fast friends. Not only did he share with me insightful accounts of DC before, during and after the civil rights movement, he also knew everything about everyone in the building. Every morning I could look forward to 5 or 10 minutes with Bill, discussing politics, history, football, and who in our building had a boob job. He never failed to make me laugh. Mitch Albom had Tuesdays with Morrie; I had Weekdays with Bill. Sadly, we lost him a couple of years ago, but his stories and perspective on world events large and small will live with me forever.
I went to a meeting the other night and was a few minutes early so I hung out in the lobby. In typical fashion I bonded with the evening guard in the building. He had a Redskins hat prominently displayed on his desk and I knew right away he was a DC lifer kind of guy. He got a real kick out of it when I told him the first song I ever learned as a child was Hail to the Redskins (which is 100% true). We lamented the demise of the Redskins at the hands of Dan Snyder; talked about the good old days at RFK.
Right on the heels of bonding with the security guard, I landed a classic, much beloved DC cabby. When I got in the cab it was absolutely festooned with Obama gear, and my new friend was dressed in Obama-wear from head to toe. He greeted me with “Praise the lord! Obama has another 4 years!” I said I thought things had turned out really well. I realized I needed to be a little more enthusiastic so I said “I love Obama; he’s doing amazing things for our country!” He was satisfied that I was a good fare.
He started running down a list of every election result in the country; Governors, Senators, Representatives, Fire Marshalls, Sheriffs, Chief Dog Catcher…you name it. He knew it all and had an opinion on each race, who was right and who was wrong, and the moral character of each candidate. He laid out what Obama needed to accomplish in the next 4 years.
We had a pleasant conversation about our shared disbelief that women and people of color actually vote republican. We waxed philosophical about the Clinton years and cursed the 8 years of W we were forced to endure. We discussed the embodiment of evil that is Karl Rove.
I say the hell with CNN and MSNBC and The Washington Post. If I close my eyes and click my heels together 3 times, I may have a chance to chat with someone who has been there, done that, and knows a lot more than any pundit. Only in Washington.