Drive-Thru Empire: Part 2, by Hardscrabble Farmer

Part 1

The conclusion of Hardscrabble Farmer’s road trip with his son. From Hardscrabble Farmer at

We took our time on the walk back to the Capitol in the brilliant light of the sunset. The clouds above us were ragged scraps of crimson and scarlet from one horizon to the other, and the Mall was nearly vacant by the time we got back to the car. My son decided on sushi for dinner, a treat we’d promised ourselves earlier in the day when we’d skipped lunch. We were both famished and looking forward to sitting down somewhere warm and dry. He’d found a restaurant only a few blocks from The White House that had decent reviews and we found it easily and parked underground in a lot that offered reduced rates after 5pm.

It was, like so many others, completely automated with computer voices, electronic tickets and payment kiosk that allowed the owner to do away with human labor. Once we parked and took the elevator up to the main floor we encountered a small lobby to the street that featured a common sight in the city, a very large Black woman in a quasi-police type uniform staring into a hand held gadget and ignoring us completely. I’d noticed that virtually every building had some kind of rent-a-cop type manning a small podium, always distracted, overweight, bored and oblivious to their surroundings.

It seemed like a conundrum, having to police every building at ground level for whatever might pose a threat, but employing people who looked like they neither cared, nor could deal with that threat should it arise. The restaurant was only a year old according to the sign out front but already it was looking a bit threadbare. The small indoor/outdoor carpet just inside the doorway was filthy with scraps of paper, sand and debris and the hostess who stood behind the counter smiled politely but seemed oblivious to the condition of her work station.  As early in the evening as it was I would have expected it to be spotless.

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