Once again, a VIP visit has disturbed my peaceful enjoyment of Rosslyn's strip malls. Today is at least the third time Obama's entourage has traveled past my office and up the street a block or so, where he casually drops in on Ray's Hell Burger for lunch. It's just him, a guest, and about 100 hangers-on, White House press pool, Secret Service agents, and local cops. A very noisy parade of heavily armored SUVs and motorcycle escorts.
Ray's Hell Burger is right next to Ray's other business, Ray's The Steaks. Ray comes up with corny names for his restaurants but he has very good food. However, if I were taking a foreign head of state to lunch in that strip mall, I'd go to the classier Village Bistro, and I would probably recommend one of their Small Plates of pasta, most likely the sea scallops with pesto and navy beans. Superb! Honestly, for a shabby run-down roadside spot that looks like something you should pass by without a glance, that strip mall has seriously excellent places to eat.
I sometimes get lunch at Greenberry's Coffee and Tea, a few feet away from Ray's, and that's also my off-site work location for those times when I need to spend a couple hours on a task without interruption. I dread being there when some VIP drops in, especially if it's the backslapping kind of politician who will insist on shaking everybody's hand and getting in their face and oozing all kinds of oily concern all over them. (And here the name "Joe Biden" jumps to mind.) The protocol is so awkward. I'd rather be left to mind my own business, but how do you gracefully ignore a politician who knows the press is watching? He would probably take it as a challenge.
I watched the TV coverage of Obama's first drop-in on Ray's Hell Burger, shortly after he was elected. He and a TV camera crew zeroed in on another lunchtime customer, one who had a governmental-looking building pass hanging from a neck lanyard, and Obama made some small talk with the poor guy:
POTUS: "Do you work in the neighborhood?"
Poor Guy: "Yeah"
POTUS: "Work for the government?"
Poor Guy: "Yeah"
POTUS: "What do you do?"
Poor Guy: "I work for ... uh ... uh ... [drops his voice] NRO"
POTUS: "What agency?"
Poor Guy: "You know ... NRO" (nods meaningfully, tries to warn POTUS off)
POTUS: "What do you do there?"
Poor Guy: "Uh ... you know, it's, uh, like ... classified"