A corny story

On my search for a room here in D.C. I went to visit a house last Sunday afternoon. The place, owned by a young couple, was quite nice, and the room was quite spacious and private. The room is on the basement where there is also a private bath. The kitchen was one floor up on the first floor. It was room I would consider living in and could call home.

The house is located in the Shaw neighborhood, commonly known as Shaw. Shaw is still “transitioning”, “rough around the edges” and where “there’s not much going on” according to my DC planner friends. When I asked the couple if the area is safe, they said there’s no such thing as a safe neighborhood in D.C. Another guy who was also on the hunt for a place told a story of  a guy killed in Georgetown one of the upscale and supossedly safer part of the city. Point well-taken.

It was early in the afternoon and soon I left to meet someone for a bike ride around the District. It was a Sunday, and so the streets were mostly empty. As I was walking toward the general direction of the nearest bike station, I spotted an Africa-American from the other side of the street. He saw me walking alone, and jogged to my side of the street, looking to his left and ride before crossing the street to see that no car would flatten him. I picked up my speed, and walked briskly to the next intersection where I’m hoping there would be more people, more of hoping that their presence would give me a sense of safety, and not as witness to a crime. The guy following me kept up with my speed, while I ignored him. “Would you like some corn?”, he asked me. I looked at his produce, just to make sure that a corn is not another term for a nozzle of a gun.

His offer, though, did not look like corn kernels, corn on a cob, or even pop corn. He was not even sporting a corn hair. The closest it resembled a corn was cornsilk. As if offering me a smoke, he showed me some dried root-like strips (corn roots?) cut in strips wrapped in a pink plastic.

He gave me a more lucrative  offer by inviting me for beer some time. Some free corn and a beer. How do you turn down such an offer? But the freebies and the good deal turned sour when capitalism took hold, and he asked for a quarter. All the while, I walked briskly and he soon gave up his sales pitch and left me alone.

He must have approached me not only because I was alone, but because he saw I’m Asian. His lack of market research cost him his sales quota for the day. Of all things, why corn? I would have given it a second thoughts and bought a couple of kilos if it were rice.


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