I should have known when I crossed Bataan St NW that I was on a death march, but didn't see the signs until too late. Two and a half miles in, I was crossing Key bridge when I saw two immutable and disheartening things in quick sequence: first, a large fuzzy moon rising over my left shoulder, and a sign indicating I was on South 29. How could that be? I was marching east, wasn't I? I had just turned left, hadn't I? The inescapable conclusion: no, I was not, and I had walked 25 blocks in the wrong direction, and it was now about one in the morning in DC.
My phone battery had drained, so I couldn't look at a map. And I couldn't use it, either, to scan a QR code on any of the city ebikes and scooters.
So I walked back. And walked and walked. In my meandering, I passed the Beacon Hotel, and said hello to Tracy, still patiently waiting beneath the roses. I got back close to my start, but was still 1.4 miles from my hotel. There were no cabs to speak of, and I didn't have a phone to hail Uber. What to do?
Eventually I stopped at a Holiday Inn and begged them to call me a cab. A food delivery driver there, took pity on me and offered to drive me, since Uber was his other job, and he was a decent man. That was Abdul.
He was from a small town in Morocco near Fez. He was saving money to go back for a visit with his mom and dad. He was excited to see his homeland again, and for a whole two months.
And that's how a man named Abdul saved me.