Audit Trail: A Bureaucrat in Dupont Circle

Photo of a bureaucrat in Dupont Circle

A bureaucrat dreads the potential confrontation necessitated by giving Dupont Circle a negative performance evaluation.

Finding myself with yet another Friday off but no laundry to catch up on, I thought I might ride over to Dupont Circle to surprise my wife for lunch near the 501(c)3 corporation where she works.

Per our Memorandum of Understanding on Surprises, I contacted her two (2) business days in advance with my proposal. She expressed interest in having a conversation about the matter, after which I had one of the analysts put a working dinner on the calendar for us to touch base.

Aside from a tense moment over a split infinitive the meeting went well. I was right, by the way, but rather than push it I decided to drop the matter because conflict makes me break out in hives. Instead I offered to hold the pen on the final draft, and that’s where I quietly slipped in my edit without tracking changes.

At seven the next morning I wheeled my bike out of the garage, inflated the tires to the recommended pressure, adjusted the brake cables, wiped down the frame, cleaned and lubricated the chain, replaced the batteries in the front and rear warning lights, and set off to surprise my wife. Normally I begin my daily bike maintenance checklist at six, but since I had the day off I thought I would indulge myself and sleep in.

That extra hour nearly cost me when my helmet got knocked off the handlebars. Because it impacted with the driveway I had to go to the bike shop and replace it immediately. Walking my bike the two miles over there was admittedly slower than optimal, but it simply wasn’t worth the risk to ride it while wearing a compromised helmet.

I suppose I could have made up time on the ride into the city by following the poor example of the cyclists who coasted through red lights when there were no cars coming. A true cyclist, however, knows that the rules of the road apply fully to him and obeys them accordingly. Fortunately, I the two hours of contingency time I built into the schedule were enough that I arrived at Dupont Circle a full twenty minutes before the agreed upon time of surprise.

The signage was abysmal. Which was the lane for going straight? Which for turning onto Connecticut Avenue? It took me ten laps around to figure out how to exit onto P Street without violating any traffic laws. One very rude driver even yelled at me to get off the road. As if I needed advice from a man with a broken taillight (illegal!).

Finally I dismounted and locked my bike to a designated bike rack. I admit I may have twisted the keys to my double u-locks with a bit more force than was strictly necessary, but I was a bit worked up from my merry-go-round the circle, and this was my way of blowing off some steam.

My wife came downstairs right on time for her surprise. She suggested we eat at an establishment called Pizzeria Paradiso, about which she had read numerous favorable reviews on Yelp. Normally I would have insisted on Subway; however, the revelation that their footlong subs are often only eleven and a half inches long was beyond unsettling.

Feeling peckish from the ride in, I was tempted to fast track the review process for my wife’s proposal. She drafted some bullets on her blackberry, and we agreed to limit the public comment period to five minutes. The first and only commenter was a raggedly dressed man shuffling down the street shouting obscenities at passersby. When I asked him what he thought about the proposal he grabbed the blackberry and ran off.

Needless to say, we did not dine at that restaurant, nor at any other eatery in the area, surprise lunch plans be darned. My wife grabbed a quick bite back at her desk, and I went to file a police report.

After that I was ready to turn around and ride right back to Virginia. Unfortunately, my bike was gone. Someone in the DC Department of Transportation (or a contractor, I’ll bet) neglected to properly secure the bike rack to the sidewalk. The thief had lifted it up and slid off both my u-locks. It took me the rest of the afternoon to find a taxi willing to take me back to Fairfax.

Overall, I would assign Dupont Circle a Needs Improvement on its performance evaluation. Under areas for improvement, I would list theft prevention and bicycle rack installation. The shops and restaurants otherwise seemed nice enough, I guess, though it is difficult to say without conducting a review of their health inspection certificates and ensuring that they filed for the appropriate permits when performing any renovations to the property.

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