I woke up early today, my last day in Washington, DC before I fly back to London tonight.
I was feeling touristy, and thought the beautiful weather called for some outdoors time before work.
Like many large cities, DC now has a bike-sharing system: Capital Bikeshare. I'm sure you know the drill: you go to one of their bike stations, pay for an hour or so of access, pull out a bike, ride around to your heart's delight, and then return it to either the same station or a different one.
There was a station just steps away from my hotel, so I'd already determined that I'd try this out on my last morning in the city.
So I was all bright-eyed when I rolled up in my cute biking outfit, ready for an adventure!
Little did I know the fate that awaited me.
I walked up to the kiosk. I tapped the screen. "Rent a bike," it said. Easy enough.
"Insert your credit card," it said. Easy enough.
"Please enter phone number associated with card," it said. Easy en--wait.
And this is when it all went to Hell in a handbasket, because the lowest line on that freakin' touchscreen of DEATH didn't work. At all. Meaning I couldn't type the 'zero' digit on the screen (of which my phone number has three), I couldn't backspace, and I couldn't even cancel the whole bloody transaction.
I tried everything I could think of. I tried pressing it at different angles, using different amounts of pressure, and different fingers. I tried whispering sweet nothings to it. I tried talking to it in a forceful tone. I tried frustratingly jumping up and down in place with gritted teeth. I even looked around for hidden cameras to see whether I was being punk'd. Three times I waited for it to time itself out so I could start all over again.
I tried everything including The Secret and The Power of Prayer. Nothing doing.
"Fine!" I finally exploded. "FINE! I'm leaving!"
It didn't care.
But I was determined, you see. I was a tourist, dammit! And tourists do touristy things!
So since I didn't have time to walk all the way to the sites I'd planned to see, I instead walked to the nearby Theodore Roosevelt Island, a memorial to the 26th U.S. President that sits in the Potomac River. I tried to walk off - and shake off - the frustration of my failed bike ride.
The island has a 17-foot statue of the man himself, along with fountains, and monoliths bearing some of his more famous quotations. Teddy Roosevelt was known for being a real man's man: undoubtedly the most bad-ass of all the presidents. He was a cowboy, a "Rough Rider" in the Army. He was athletic, he hunted big game, and he once delivered a 90-minute speech moments after having been shot in the chest by an attempted assassin.
Teddy Roosevelt would not, presumably, have seriously contemplated kicking the Capital Bikeshare kiosk.
He'd have wrestled that bike out of its restraints with his bare hands and the kiosk would probably have THANKED him for it.
I'm scheduled to come back to DC in a few weeks for work again. Watch out, Capital Bikeshare. We have unfinished business.