The wife and I drove up to DC recently to explore our old haunts and visit some friends. Some things looked different and some things looked the same, but the biggest change was in the Navy Yard area where the new Washington Nationals stadium was built:
We moved away from DC just before the stadium was built and were amazed by the development in the surrounding area. Although still in the early stages of gentrification, the neighborhood is much nicer and more developed than it was when I lived there.
I used to go to a Taco Bell on South Capitol, about four blocks from where the stadium now sits. You had shout your order through three inches of Plexiglas to workers who were exemplars of incompetent disrespect. Once you placed your order, you waited 20 minutes to hear your number called. If you were lucky, you only had to entertain one or two con stories from panhandlers who lurked among the customers.
In order to get your food order, which was almost always wrong, the employees put the bag in a bulletproof compartment that had two doors. They couldn’t open their door unless yours was closed, and you couldn’t get your food until they secured the door on their side of the clear wall. Sometimes they left their door cracked and walked away to do who knows what in the back. If you tapped on the glass, the person working the register would shoot you a dark and piercing glare. The message was clear; “You just bought yourself another minute of waiting. Tap the glass again and see what happens.” You felt like a caged rat, wondering what trick you had to perform to get your cheese.
When the Gods of Taco Bell finally graced you with your grab bag of fast food, which may or may not include random side items from the KFC section of the menu, you had to run through a gauntlet of red-eyed bums to get back to your car. The whole endeavor was so bad that I eventually started driving out to Arlington to get my fix. That Taco Bell is now gone, and the whole area looks cleaner than ever before. I still wouldn’t want to be alone on the street after midnight, but the progress is impressive.