Commuters delayed at rush hour behind farmers on tractors, diners at posh Washington restaurants disturbed by big-spending farmers who came to town claiming poverty, and Washington waitresses steaming over small tips are too mad to care that an 89-cent loaf of break puts only two cents in a farmer's pocket.
Around the city, on the streets and inside restaurants and entertainment establishments, a few of the thousands of farmers here have left a sour impression.
Most of the farmers here have spent their time determinedly lobbying congressmen and senators for their demand that the government guarantee them higher prices for their products.
For the most part, the farmers are staying at hotels like the Holiday Inn on Glebe Road in Arlington, and the downtown Harrington Hotel, where rooms start at $16, which is cheap for Washington.
Robbie Lindsey, a farmer from Washington County, Ga., said he had to borrow money to come to Washington for the American Agricultural Movement strike. "We have to eat and lodge at the cheapest places. We don't have the money to fool around," he said.
By contrast, however, other, more visible farmers, have wolfed down the most expensive food at several restaurants without tipping, and fondled strippers in a 14th Street go-go bar.
"My waitresses," said Carlos Fuentes, night manager at Mr. Smith's in Georgetown, "don't want to see any more farmers. They come in here, buy only the good, expensive things and don't tip. Sometimes they will leave a nickle."
According to a cocktail waitress at a 14th Street go-go bar, the farmers seem to have plenty of money for "booze and broads." But they don't know what a tip is," complained Chery Thompson.
In addition, she was upset over being delayed on Rte. 50 in Maryland Wednesday morning for one hour and 35 minutes, in part by farmers driving tractors.
And, finally, she said, "Most of the go-go girls here are nude, you know. But those farmers will sit and drink and scream 'take it off.' What do they want them to take off, their skin?"
Down 14th Street NW at the Butterfly Night Club, which features nude dancers and sexually explicit films, the farmers got better reviews. The night club's manager, who refused to give his name, said, "They are just normal, fun-loving guys." He said they were a little louder than most of his customers, but caused no problems.
At the Washington Palm Restuarant on 19th Street NW where dinner for two averages about $45, several groups of farmers showed up without reservations Wednesday night, wearing their red and blue farm strike hats and nylon parkas.
They waited patiently for a table, according to the restaurant's owner, Ray Jacomo, then "they sat down, ate prime rib of beef or steak and paid cash."
Jocomo said he talked with a Georgia farmer who joked "he wanted to get a good meal before the country runs out of food." Jacomo said the farmers were "good" customers who seemed to be a "party mood."
At Mr. Smith's in Georgetown, the night manager said yesterday he had to push farmers out of the door at 1:30 a.m. Thursday. He said the 150 to 200 farmers in his restaurant Wednesday night at times drowned out the music of Bernie Bury, his piano player.
M Street in Georgetown was apparently a magnet for farmers Wednesday night. They crowded into J & B's Crazy Horse bar for "Dollar Night." And some 50 farmers dropped by next door at the Georgetown Adult Bookstore, according to Carol Bell, a clerk in the store.
Two young farmers from Florence, Ala., spent part of their afternoon yesterday drinking a "Salty Dog" in Mr Smith's restaurant on M Street. Jeff Riggins, 20, who comes from a county in Alabama where no alcoholic beverages are sold, said Wednesday's protest on Capitol Hill had been "boring."
He and his friend, Johnny Sharp, 19, decided to spend yesterday seeing the city, Riggins said. Riggins had bought a Randy Newman record album and said he enjoyed his Salty Dog, a vodka and grapefruit drink.
"When a fella comes up here," Riggins said, "he better look around. He might not have a chance again with the farm prices being what they are."