Do you know D.C.?
Get our free newsletter to stay in the know about local D.C.
Life in D.C. (and life anywhere, really) is full of fleeting, enchanting moments: a delivery man pulling a dolly and a pair of tourists on electric scooters race each other on a downtown sidewalk; a pet dog interrupts an outdoor yoga class; a group of children scream-sing “Let It Go” from Frozen on the circulator.
It’s not the type of thing that you think of as news, but these moments make up our lives just as much as Council meetings, sports games, and gallery openings do. We’ve been trying to capture these moments—small scenes of people living their lives in D.C.—in City Paper this year. The March cover story “One Day” captured 15 of these scenes on a random day in D.C., and May’s “Market Value” story immersed readers in D.C.’s Florida Avenue Market through brief vignettes and photographs.
Scene and Heard, a new recurring column, will continue that effort, exploring the lives we lead in the District, one scene at a time. Find the first entry below.
The West Coast, June 2019
A woman charged with checking IDs and boarding passes at Los Angeles International Airport considers a D.C. license for a moment. It has everything a D.C. bouncer might expect to see—a birth date, address, cherry blossom background, and “District of Columbia” in big letters at the top. It’s even one of the new REAL IDs, which the TSA won’t require for domestic flights until October of next year.
“I’ll need to see a passport,” she says.
“It’s our nation’s capital,” the ID’s owner snips.
If her response is short, it’s because this happened earlier, a few hours inland at the entrance to a bar in an alley with a clubby atmosphere and purple lights. The bouncer took her ID and started speaking to her in Spanish, believing her to be Colombian. Nevermind that the ID is in English and carries the telltale “u” that differentiates between the District of Columbia and the South American nation.
The gentle reminder about U.S. geography doesn’t persuade the airport worker. She leans over to her coworker, who confirms that D.C. is, indeed, a place that issues legitimate United States IDs. She waves the traveler through to security without chagrin, and the traveler boards a plane to Oregon. She’ll go through the same thing again in Portland at a brewery. At least the bartender there seems embarrassed when he realizes his mistake.