I took the remainder of my coffee in my right hand, folded the copy of the Examiner under my sweaty arm and walked home briskly, constantly looking over my shoulder and checking each alley for a hoard of the undead with the munchies. I wasn’t wearing my ear buds, but I couldn’t afford to take any chances. “Damn, I knew I should have brought my 7-iron with me.”

Back at the bat cave, I grabbed my mail and opened up my laptop. Most of the e-mail I get is e-garbage. Hit “delete” and it is more or less gone. Most of the regular mail I get is regular garbage. [Well, I guess when they sent it to me it had some intrinsic value, but I technically turn it into garbage.] This does not make me cheery. I hate throwing things away that didn’t need to exist in the first place. As I was about to hurl the pile into the trash, one letter stood out for its non-credit card solicitation qualities: plain white envelope, handwritten address, an actual stamp.

Hmmm. I culled it from the bunch and opened it, sliding my finger underneath the length of the fold, narrowly escaping a tragic paper cut. The letter was from the District Department of Undead Management. It was dated with tomorrow’s date. I unfolded the letter and began to read.

The subject was me, which as a casual narcissist made me feel temporarily satisfied, but the contents of the letter quickly put me back in my place. I’ll spare the details, but the summary was “Thanks but there is a hiring freeze, so we can’t hire you.”

This made me mad. No, not because I really wanted the job and now my future is murky, but because I really wanted to know what the letter would have said had there not presently been a hiring freeze. My money was on either, “Though you are well qualified, we cannot offer you a position at this time,” or, “Though it was a tough decision, we chose to go in another direction. We wish you the best of luck.” I have piles of these letters, separated by ethos, getting taller as the weeks wear on. I have no idea how to classify this letter, so I started a new pile, and then went back to my computer.

Safari opened to nytimes.com. “That’s not going to work anymore,” my brain said, “I need something local.” I went instead to washingtonpost.com thinking I could get some local news. I don’t know that a less-local local paper exists. The layout is nauseating and the search engine sucks. No wonder newspapers are failing.

Next stop, straight to the source: dc.gov.

When the page loaded, by bowels nearly unloaded. Front and center was the following press release:

 “Mayor Fenty announces an immediate moratorium on wearing headphones in conjunction with portable music players in the District between the hours of 4 p.m. and 9 a.m. daily, citing public health and safety concerns.”

The release had an excerpt from his statement, given in front of 441 4th St. NW, with the fall sun glistening off of his newly polished head. “I saw the article this morning in the paper, too, and my office has been flooded with calls. I decided that prompt action was necessary to protect the residents of our peaceful city, and the moratorium will remain in effect until we have a better understanding of the issues. I don’t want anyone to be alarmed; the government just wants you to be safe.”

It’s a good thing he officially lost the election last week.

Seriously, no one in their right mind would place a de facto ban on iPods in a city filled to the brim with young professionals. It’d be like telling Iowans they can’t grow corn. What on earth are the tens of thousands of Hill staffers and interns going to do with themselves during that vast soundtrackless cavern between front door and front door? Protest! They’ll overtake the anti-abortion/healthcare/circumcision/war folks in no time! If this was the “prompt action” necessary to counter the “issues” at hand, it must mean that everything that I’ve been thinking is going on, is going on. And if I’m actually right about something, you know we’re in trouble.

The next morning, the site was updated indicating a ban on texting as well.

No txt? WTF?

If there was any doubt left in my mind (which there wasn’t) that this zombie thing was for real, it was forever gone. This shit is for real, for real. 

But back to politics. In this town you can get away with pretty much anything you want as a politician. Get drunk and crash your car? No problem. Embezzle millions of dollars from taxpayers over the last 20 years? What’s past is past. Kill a motherfucker? Give it time. Hell, you can smoke crack and you’ll get re-elected!

DC is a special place, but there is nothing unique about it. The simple truth of it is that I forgive you, because you are me (except for the crack part). Besides, you didn’t crash MY car. You didn’t steal MY money. You didn’t kill ME. I don’t hate you, I can’t hate you, because in another life, I could be the asshole standing in your shoes. I get it. We are the same person, just caught in parallel universes. 

Of course, you also did most of that before Facebook arrived, and you probably still think it’s just a fad. Don’t get me started on your twitter account, Fenty…

Later that afternoon I got a Facebook invite for, “Join the Anti-Anti iPod/Texting Rally in Dupont Circle. Saturday at noon!” Already in attendance were 17,832 people. I did the only logical thing and joined. This is going to get messy.

Especially if zombies check Facebook too. (I imagine the corollary zombie invite would be for something like, “BRAAAINNNSsss Human aarggh clussstergh in circle…MgraSathurydahhhy,” but it would probably be on MySpace. Zombies seem like MySpace users.) Maybe I shouldn’t go. Damn it, it’s much harder to attend a political rally knowing I may get torn asunder by ravenous beasts then eaten alive. Glenn Beck isn’t even that scary. Decisions, decisions.

As I carefully weighed the pros and cons, my cell phone rang. I was inside, so I figured I couldn’t get into any trouble by picking it up, either from the police or the undead.


“Yes, hello there, may I speak with Robert Dingle?”

“This is he.”

“Yes, well, this is Jeff Houghton with DDUM. I have your application in front of me, and we’d like to have you in for an interview.”

“Really? I mean, that’s great. But, eh, I just got a rejection letter from your office.”

“Ah, yes. We send those to everyone. Just throw it out. Nothing personal, we just find it is easier to reject everyone than have to answer all the questions that come in. So when can you come in? How about tomorrow at 8 a.m.?”

“Yeah, um, that sounds good. To whom should I report?”

“Yes, just have a seat by the reception desk, we’ll come and get you.”

 [A cold shiver ran down my arms and back up to my shoulder blades.]

“Great, I’ll see you tomorrow.”