It may have been Ronald Reagan's day on Capitol Hill and Pennsylvania Avenue yesterday, but in the barber shops of Anacostia, the shopping malls of Northern Virginia and the pizza shops of Silver Spring, the day belonged to Mark Rosegrant, Ted Albritton and their compatriots.
They and many other Washington-area residents were indifferent to the inauguration. Some -- government workers -- were glad to have the day off to get some chores done or enjoy the warm weather. For most, going downtown to see the festivities posed too many problems.
Driving into Washington was "just too much trouble," according to Rosegrant, 30, a Reston resident who was at Tysons Corner Mall yesterday. "The transportation and parking was too much of a hassle to deal with. My wife's working today and I'm here taking care of the baby."
There was even some anger among some who didn't attend, or pay any attention to, the inauguration. "I'm protesting," said Albritton, also at Tysons. "I don't give a damn about either Jimmy Carter or Ronald Reagan so I wasn't about to celebrate."
Dee Johnson said she didn't go to the inauguration for two reasons: "Number one: I didn't vote for Reagan. Two: I work at a tennis shop and have to work all day. I'm very upset they preempted all of the television programs today for the Reagan inauguration."
Al Firestein, an industrial laundry worker who paused for a cup of coffee at a Wisconsin Avenue carryout in the morning, was gently skeptical of the high hopes that he had heard expressed on the radio for the new Reagan administration. "They always start out saying things are going to be better, but you've got to wait and see," he said.
Wait and see. That also seemed to be a widespread attitude in Anacostia, a section of Washington that is largely black and largely poor. "We hope he'll help the economy, but what can you say?" wondered Garnell Lyles, a government worker, as he waited to play football in Anacostia Park. "Everybody's just waiting to see -- and glad to have the day off."
Andrew Johnson, who has a barbershop on Good Hope Road SE in Anacostia, tried to follow inaugural events on a small television set in his shop as he worked on customers. "I don't have a firm idea about Reagan," he said. "Time will tell."
In a Holiday Spa in Silver Spring, Tim Smith and Dave Jermolovich huffed and puffed their way through the day on a nasty looking machine called a bench press. Jermolovich said he had glimpsed the inauguration on TV a few hours earlier but Smith said, "I didn't see it. In fact, I just woke up."
Around the corner at the offices of Dr. John A. Spinelli, a Silver Spring podiatrist, not even the inauguration could stop the march of ailing feet. "It's the same as every day," said secretary Marie Somin. "Routine foot care, X-rays and physical therapy."
At Jerry's Sub Shop nearby, owners Ray and Barbara Bostelman were not able to listen to the inauguration because of a Muzak system. Anyway, Bostelman said they were "working too hard" taking orders for pizza and subs to pay attention to the events taking place in Washington.
Some people didn't pay much attention to the inauguration because they didn't like Reagan. In Alexandria yesterday, Lexie Dondray, a mother of five, said, "I'm a Democrat and listened to all those Republican proclamations about how all we do is throw away money. Now Reagan is having the most expensive inauguration in history. A few days before he starts abolishing people's jobs, his wife flaunts around in a $10,000 dress. That's not an inauguration, that's a coronation."
While government workers had the day off, there were plenty of people working yesterday. Martin DeVille was pumping home heating oil into a house on 34th Street NW. Jesse Green and David Williams were cleaning trash from the street in front of the Shoreham. Kevin Kenney was delivering UPS parcels on Wisconsin Avenue.
On the Capital Beltway in Virginia, David Pomeroy, a road crew member for the Virginia Department of Highways, flipped the dial of his radio, passing up news about the inauguration and the hostages in favor of "More Bounce to the Ounce" on a disco music station.
Laughing, his coworker Steven Hollister said, "We all got invitations from Ronnie, but we had to tell him we couldn't make it. Picking up this trash is just too important. It broke his heart."
It was just a nice, midweek holiday for Nikki Bell, a bank teller for United Virginia Bank, and she used the day to wash her new Honda Civic outside the Duke Street twon house she shares with two friends in Alexandria.
"I tried driving [in downtown] D.C. yesterday and it was just a zoo," said Bell. "I'd rather stay at home and watch it on TV, but I'm really more interested in what's happening to the hostages. They're finally coming home and I want to be around and see them get off that plane. It's gonna be great."
Travelers insurance salesman Vernon Gabersek said the less-than-jocular expression on his face yesterday at Sprinfield Mall was because he was trying to fit a new set of braces for his daughter Monique's teeth into an already strained family budget. "I've got to wonder how people can be so happy today. I feel like the Christmas Grinch," said Gabersek. "Those bastards in Iran are getting all their billions back without so much as a slap on the wrist. Everybody thinks things are going to be different under Reagan. Remember when everybody thought things were going to be different under Carter?"
Many said they were inconvenienced by the inauguration. Van Jones, an operating room technician at a hospital in Virginia, waited for a subway at Metro Center, but while six trains passed by on the other side going to the Capitol there were no trains going the direction he wanted to go. Said Jones: "I'm going to miss an hour of my paycheck."
Donald Spitzer of Fairfax County, enjoying a year off from Brandeis University, said he was going to spend the day riding his Fuji bike along the Mount Vernon bike trail. "I was just going to stay home and watch television, but if I watch another hostage mother being asked 'how do you feel today?' I'll freak out," said Spitzer. "I'm just tired of the whole thing. And I wasn't going to the inauguration . . . I guess that makes me a bad person, huh?"