I settle into a table near the window. The waiter approaches.
“He’s not here.”
“The chef. He’s not here.”
The waiter explains that the 23-year-old culinary wizard – the reason people still flock to this otherwise drab restaurant – already has prepared a few thousand meals this summer.
“So our manager is shutting him down,” the waiter says. “He’s cooked too many meals as it is.”
I leave in a huff. Hail a cab. The driver stops two miles from my apartment.
“Um, this isn’t where I live…”
“Sorry, man,” the driver says. “Not my call. Dispatch says I’m putting too many miles on these tires.”
I get out. Hoof it home. A thin slip of paper is waiting for me in my mailbox.
“We regret to inform you that our postal carriers no longer will be delivering mail after August. In making this decision, we carefully considered the long-term health of our employees. We need them at their best for Valentine’s Day.”
I pick up a book. The last 20 pages are blank.
I turn on the television. The last two minutes go black (and I’m not even watching “The Sopranos”).
Out of frustration, I fire up my laptop. I have a column due on Nats pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg already has thrown 150 1/3 innings this season. The Nats intend to shut him down before the end of September even though he wants to pitch.
I peck out 200 words when the phone rings. It’s my editor.
“Forget the column.”
“Forget the column?!?!”
“It’s your first year on the Nats beat. And you’ve already written a lot of stories this season…”
“… so let’s just get you ready for 2013.”
OK, quickly, before I reach my word limit. I think what the Nats are doing with Stephen Strasburg is