Shortly after we had moved to the east coast, my cousin Bill and his wife Rita came to D.C. to do the "tourist" gig. One evening, the four of us decided to head for the Hard Rock Cafe. As we turned the last corner before reaching the restaurant, two things struck me as being rather peculiar. First, there were very few cars parked along the street which surprised me, as the Hard Rock is usually always a packed house. Second, I noticed a fella sitting alone on a stoop, which made me wonder if he was one of the hundreds of homeless individuals in the District.
After we parked, I opened my door, stepped out onto the sidewalk, and gasped in horror! The gentleman (?) I had seen on the stoop was literally holding my car door open for me and smiling. I instantly thought that we were about to be mugged, and more than likely at gunpoint!
I quickly gave him the once over...he wasn't a large fella, didn't appear to be intoxicated or high, but definitely could use a shower and a clean change of clothing. And what's with this big smile across his face? Is he proud of scaring the living daylights out of me? As I continued to stare at him, he finally spoke:
"You gonna have dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe?"
"Ummm...yes we are," as I turned to see Terry, Bill, and Rita now standing outside the car and giving our "visitor" the same stares I had been giving him. I couldn't get away from him soon enough as I joined the other three and headed across the street to the restaurant. But this fella was right alongside us repeating that he would "guard" our car for us.
"What...what did you say?" I curiously inquired.
"I will protect your car while you have dinner. You don't have nothin' to worry about."
Seriously? Should I be worried about my car? What could possibly happen to it? Wait!! Maybe it is time to worry! I'm positive that he knows more about nightlife in D.C. than I surely do.
He then hustled over to Bill and continued, "You are one big guy...are you a football player? I think you're a Dallas Cowboy, aren't you?"
(I should explain to my readers that Bill is about 6'3" and weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 300+ pounds; and it just so happened that the Cowboys were playing the Washington Redskins in a few days from then.)
Bill just couldn't resist, and in his best version of a Texas accent, he replied, "Yes, I am! so you don't want to be messin' with me."
"No...no! I like the Cowboys!"
He accompanied us to the restaurant door, and his final words were, "Have a good dinner." How could I possibly have a good dinner if I was going to spend the next two hours contemplating what might happen next.
As we waited to be seated, Bill mentioned that we probably wouldn't have any hubcaps or stereo, or worse yet--any car--by the time we left. Of course, we nervously laughed and then discussed our options:
A: We could ask for window table to keep an eye on the car.
B: Terry could move the car to a public parking garage several blocks away (which is obviously what the 100+ current patrons had opted to do).
C: We could choose a different restaurant.
D: We could ask our server if our car was actually safe parked on the street. (explaining that we were new to the District)
E: We could ignore our "protector" and enjoy dinner.
Part 2: See what we chose to do and the result of our decision.