Yesterday, we drove to DC specifically to see the Smithsonian Museum of American History. Just the two of us and eight billion school children. Shouldn’t school be out by now? Shouldn’t all these kids be at Disney with their families? For the most part, they were well behaved, but you get that many in one space and the noise is unbelievable.
The most memorable time I had happened as we headed out of the museum to eat lunch. We were trying to get past a gaggle of graduating 8th graders that were blocking the entire sidewalk. The teachers were shouting for them to move against the building so passersby could avoid having to walk in the very busy street. No sooner would they get one section to move then the other section would wander back into the fray. There was no way to keep them all together against the wall without a sheep dog. The teachers gallantly tried, but it was a useless effort. I smiled internally knowing I never had to take on the role of sheep dog again.
I’d like to discuss the government today, though. Specifically, their ineptness in the realm of the “food court.” Since my diet is restrictive, eating out can be a challenge. We tend to lean toward actual sit-down restaurants. If we need something quick, we are most apt to go to Panera or something similar. The process for finding a restaurant is a time-consuming process. We check the area first, in maps. From there, I cross reference choices on my Gluten Free app. Lord help us if we take the dog with us, because that requires a separate app. Once I think I’ve found a place, I go to their website to see the menu. This is where I look for the vegetarian options and any nutritional information to check on soy inserted in some bizarre place. (You would be shocked to know where soy ends up. Things you would think would be easier to create without it, have soy in it.)
Any hoo, we found an Au Bon Pain and they had a salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. We just had to get to it. The Google (OMG! I just did that old lady thing where I put the “the” in front of something that doesn’t need it. I have lost my mind.) said we should immediately cross the busy four lane road and enter the Environmental Protection Agency building. Cars were whipping in front of us and we decided to divert a half block to a light that would give us approval to cross. If we got hit there, at least our heirs could righteously sue and wind up on Easy Street.
We made our way past the EPA building with only a smattering of cruel words on my lips for those in charge there. We found a walkway basically split the building with this nice path in between that had signs for the food court which presumably housed the Au Bon Pain, but no directions to it. The buildings apparently housed more than the EPA, but all we wanted was the food court. We wandered for a while and came across a seating area. Google said we had arrived. We presumed the food court was just inside the doors. Doors that were currently surrounded by a hoard of teenagers and their harried teacher. They seemed to be hanging out, so we passed them and headed inside. What we came upon was a checkpoint. They were not pleased we were there. We were told we had to come in with the kids. We knew we were in the wrong spot, so we headed out the door we came in, which was now filled with kids coming in. If you’ve ever tried to walk against the flow in a city, you know what we were up against. I put my head down and my shoulder out, just skating into the fresh air before I would have been swept back in. This is when we noticed all the people at the outdoor tables seemed to be eating sack lunches. We decided “the Google” was incorrect.
We wandered further down the walkway. Food court signs spotted the area, but we saw no such animal. Why would a restaurant be in an invisible food court? Not much money in that. We started to double back, deciding we should just find a suitable restaurant on line, grab a cab if needed, and get to it ASAP. As a last-ditch effort, we headed into another part of the building right by a sign in the hopes we would find nicer guards that might tell us where this elusive food court was hiding. We were told to “go under the arch, then to the left, through security, past the checkpoint entrance to the EPA’s innerworkings, and down the escalators.” We walked out of the building, couldn’t see an arch and had to go back and ask. The guard was kind enough to take us around the corner to point out the arch. We were on our way to salad goodness!
Our luck was changing. We headed into the building just prior to another school group. My purse got felt up again by security and we asked which way to go. We were pointed down a hall to a set of escalators. Low and behold! Au Bon Pain. That’s it. Au Bon Pain. No other choices. Nice food court, huh? We walked into an area that had pre-packaged sandwiches and salads and a long line to checkout. It was so tight in there it made my skin crawl. Rick ventured a little further and called me to the counter where we could get a freshly made salad. We got in line there, got in line to fill our cups, got in line to check-out. All in all, a very disorganized set up. We retraced our steps to get out, as there was no seating inside. Up the escalator, down the hall to security, out the exit, back down the walkway to the outdoor table and chairs to eat. While we ate, we marveled at how our government could screw up something as simple as a food court. Good Lord! It’s an easy concept. Easy access to a wide array of fast food. Let me say that again. Easy. Access. To. A. Wide. Array. Of. Fast. Food. Period. That’s it.
I wonder what we taxpayers paid to the contractor to build the food court area of the building? Ugh! I’m not going to think about it. It will inevitably give me indigestion.