I awoke to a knock at the door. Hostel check out was 11. It was 1230. I didn't go to bed until late, as I was blogging and logging my video footage. Since it was a hostel, they were all kosher about it and let me take my time getting my things together. I packed, showered and headed upstairs to return my key, and thank them. I chilled in the front room and googled how to get to DC. It was alot closer than I had thought, but in my experiences, knew it was borderline impossible to hitch. As confident and persistent as I am, I'm also realistic, and it just wasn't worth the effort. Add the flurries of snow hitting the city, I figured out a way into DC without thumbing it. I would take the light rail to the airport, where I could take a courtesy shuttle to the DC metro, and from there take the DC subway into the city centre. It was about a 2 hr trip. I wandered around Baltimore abit, knowing this, and killed some time. I walked down to the Orioles stadium and asked the man at the desk if I could go to the gates and snap a picture. He told me it was closed. I told him I'm a journo, and was globetrotting and wanted nothing more than a quick pic to prove I was there. He told me it was closed. I said it wouldn't take more than two seconds. He told me it was closed. I said 'mate, I realize its closed, I'm not here for a tour, I just want a picture of me in front of Cal Ripken Jr,' He told me it was closed. I told him I was shooting a documentary on human compassion and wasn't here to cause trouble, merely to get me tourist souvenir. The older gentleman, a southern accented black man watching a basketball game snapped. He told me he has explained himself. I informed him he has only repeated himself. I told him he didn't need to be an asshole, I was clearly a tourist with my bags and dangling camera, and he hasn't a compassionate bone in his body. He told me its people like me who 'spect' everything to come easy, but the world doesn't work like that. It was funny, as he had no idea what I was up to. I told him I didn't want to argue, and that I wasn't here for a problem, rather just to take a photo. I told him to have a nice day, and try to treat the next person with a little more respect. In spite, I walked around the building, hopped two fences and got one away from being in the actual stadium. Suck it.
Just because I can. Behind enemy lines.
This ones for you Higgy. Jealous? haha. Ravens official megastore.
I walked back to the light rail and asked some cops for the proper direction. With my appearance, a man on a bench was intrigued and asked if I needed change. I said no, but I guess in a way he knew yes. He handed me a handful of American change, and it got me onto the train. I thanked him, and he didn't even know what I was up to.
While I waited for the train, a lovely woman came up to me and bubbly asked where I was from and where I was heading. Her jaw dropped and every word I said had her mouth falling further agap. She asked to take my photo, and to write my blog on her shopping bag. We both got on the train, and she continued talking to me about my dealio. She was a social worker dealing with troubled youth in Boston, in town for a seminar. I told her about my views and she said she was so refreshed to see a young man aware of global issues and pushing to make a change. She slipped a bill into my hand and said to treat myself when I get hungry. I hugged her and whispered "its people like you who make this project possible, and my views a reality". She was touched, and I was as equally moved by her kindness. We got off together at the airport and wished eachother well, and she promised to follow me.
Sooo I went to jail because I didn't give up my seat. Only in America.
I walked through the airport, and it was crowded with grounded passengers due to the storm.
I went to the bus stop, and when it finally came asked the driver to be let on, and he waved me through. I found a copy of Popular Science in the airport, and gave it to him. He was real appreciative, and it made me wish people could just be kinder, as its only the little things that we value.
While I was standing at the front of the bus, I noticed a gangster looking kid at the back staring at me. It was a very intimidating stare, and it made me nervous. The bus was full of people who had clearly just flown in, but I could see he was singling me out. I had pulled out my camera and iPod at least once during the ride, and it must have given him some ideas. I'm never one to get paranoid for this sort of thing, but my radar was going, and this wasn't something from nothing. I kept looking through my peripherals and he never took his eyes off of me.
When the bus finally pulled into the stop, I was first off and rushed out, and stood behind a pole where I could see everyone getting off, but they wouldn't see me immediately in the darkness.
When he got off, he looked left and right, like he was looking for something. Or someone. I continued to stay parallel to him, and watched him scan around looking over the bus stop. I waited for him to walk away, but he saw me.
He immediately acted weird, and walked away, continually looking back. I walked towards the subway station and he turned around, in my direction. I had no choice. I immediately walked right up to him.
I looked him in the eye, and asked if he had a problem. He said nothing, only stared. I stared coldly into his eyes, and told him he doesn't know me, don't fuck with people you don't know. I told him he best fuck off sharpish while he still had the legs to carry him, (Snatch quote) cause he picked the wrong person. I never broke eye contact, and I was dead serious. I was taller than him, but he was bigger. He made that pfff click noise with his tongue and walked away.
I could write a full entry on how this worked, and maybe it was luck, but Ill only say one thing.
You control how people perceive you.
If you want to be weak, people will see this. If you are strong, it will be seen.
You control how people perceive you.
I watched him walk away, and he looked back several times. I just stood there, fists clenched.
He disappeared into the distance, and I walked into the station. I asked to get into the subway, and once in safely, let out a sigh of relief. It was my first scare, and my heart was beating like a hammer.
I got on the subway, counted my blessings, and forgot about it. I knew it was imminent on this trip, and it will happen again in more severity. Its a risk I knew going into it, and have accepted.
I got into DC, and met a cute Colombian woman who helped me with directions. After a quick chat, she invited me back to her house, but called her roommate to make sure it was OK.
She tried convincing, but not everyone is open to the idea, and I can never blame them. I thanked her regardless, and carried on, slightly bummed. It was too easy. She even promised to cook!
I wandered the DC borough, and when I asked a cop for directions, she told me to get the hell out of the neighbourhood, as its one of the roughest in the city. After that, I then noticed the abundance of police presence. I took everything with a grain of salt, and tapped into my donated funds again, and walked to the DC hostel. I don't consider it a break in oath, as the donated funds are emergency only, and it was easily -10C and I had no idea of DC or its demographics.
I found the hostel, and checked in.
When I came down to use my computer, I met a group of high school media students from south England. We ended up sharing stories, and they offered me to join them for the massive dinner they were preparing. I accepted, and it was awesome. Plates full of pasta, salad and cake, it was great, as I had hardly eaten all day. We talked about all kinds of stuff, and when I told them my gig, thought it was super cool. The guys were cool and the girls were cute, and I hung out with Louis and Sam for the evening, sharing music, thoughts and cigarettes. As it got later, we all went to bed, and I was happy to have met a bunch of cool kids, and have a warm place, thanks to the generosity of people beforehand.
I laid in bed, blogging, and counted my blessings.