Friday, April 16, 2010

Canvassing 101 in the District... Canadian-Style

I know the District is HQ for government, but little did I know that I would soon get myself entangled in politics. I'm from Canada, so my headquarters is the nearest bar to watch the hockey game! Yesterday though, I got recruited to pound the pavement and canvas for votes & support for Fenty's re-election this coming September. DC had called me in the afternoon, asking if I and any friends were available to help. He pleaded a good case; if I said no, he'd have to do the whole district all by himself. Oh, a sucker for a good sob story, I am! I made a few calls to friends, and while some were interested in helping, they weren't getting off work until much later. Looks like it's going to be a two-person job, and the ironic part is that this half of the team is Canadian and a Virginia resident! Oh well. After a quick tutorial on Canvassing 101, I was handed my clipboard and off we went! 

For about three hours, DC and I roamed the streets, knocking on doors, delivering yard signs and chatting up folks on the street. During this time, I learned a few lessons: People are not very good at pretending that they are not home (at least whisper, turn off the lights, or close the curtains so I don’t hear or see you!), fake phone convos spontaneously occur when folks see you walking down the street (“Yeah, I dunno. Sure, whatever.”), those who are with their dogs are easy targets, yard signs are to be placed perpendicular to the sidewalk for maximum visibility, and never ever wear a hat when visiting Mary in Adams Morgan (her Rottweiler hates hats and I had one on). Talk about a near-Cujo experience!

By the end of the evening, we were both barely talking, a testament to how tired and hungry (therefore, cranky) we were. Due to the demands of his new job, DC no longer has time to have a decent, sit-down meal anywhere, so we went to Astor. This little Mediterranean joint is nestled in the heart of Adams Morgan, between neighbourhood mainstays Cashion’s and Napoleon Bistro. The setup reminded me a little of Jumbo Slice down 18th Street, a few blocks down. The focus here was on food, not decor. Walls were sparse, and there were no attempts made at hiding kitchen equipment and food supplies. Look up, and the complete menu is on display. Look down inside the counter display, and there are plenty of Greek and Mediterranean staples. Beets, Greek salad, hummus, stuffed grape leaves, and loads more. On the other side of the counter, the lady waited for orders. Tables and chairs lined the walls, with a few more available outside if you wanted a side of people-watching with your souvlaki.

When I go to eat, I like to have some time to ponder what I want and not get rushed into anything. There were things in the display that I wanted to try but DC ordered his food so quickly, soon the spotlight was on me! So what did I do? I got flustered and ordered the first thing I see on the menu board above. "Chicken kabob with the salad, please." I composed myself and wanted to add to my order, but the lady at the counter already moved on to the guy behind me. Ugh, next time, I guess. DC and I sat down, and waited for our food. And we waited. And waited some more. For a "fast food" place, Astor sure took its time. Mind you, the place is popular and there were quite a few people waiting for their orders. Instead on dwelling on the delay, DC used the time to chat with Ma, and I checked NHL scores on my phone.

After what seemed like eternity, our order came and we proceeded to devour everything. My chicken kabob was surprisingly good, not overcooked or dried out, as I was expecting. The Greek salad sufficed, with the greens not wilted and limp. I gathered that DC's food was satisfactory, because he barely uttered a word. Beets? Done in three minutes. Stuffed grape leaves? Six minutes, tops. Lamb kabob? Obliterated immediately. As we sat back and digested, DC's bestie, Flaming Dragon came by for a few minutes of chitchat. Sadly, we ended up having to roll since DC, the politico, still had to get back to his HQ to enter his data, and I, the Canadian, had to get to mine to watch the Canucks game! At least we can both get to "work" with our bellies full.

Astor Mediterranean
1829 Columbia Road NW
Washington, DC   20009
Astor on Urbanspoon


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