As much as we complain about DC – the metro issues, the draconian gun control laws, the insane cost of living – it’s actually a beautiful city, filled with history, incredible architecture, and beautiful nature. Sometimes I almost feel the need to hoard my city, because mine! I know the good places to eat and to take a walk. I know the coolest museums and monuments. I know the best angles to take the best photographs. MINE!
And yes, I fully realize this is America’s city. This is where national-level decisions are made. This is where the monuments commemorate our history – both tragic and rich. This is where people come to learn about this amazing nation called America and to pay their respects to her founding. I get it, and yet, I’m still filled with this sense of ownership.
At no time is that feeling of proprietorship more acute than when the tourists come flooding into town!
They clog the streets and metros.
They take photos of my place of employment, just when I’m leaving, forcing me to duck behind columns and hide my face, so I don’t wind up in their shots. It sometimes feels like they treat those of us who work here like monkeys in a zoo! “Oh, look! A person coming out of the building! How cool! Washingtonians in their natural habitat! Let’s take pictures!”
They stop in the middle of the sidewalk to take selfies, and walk into you because they’re too busy looking at their phone apps or their maps as they wander around.
It’s aggravating. The metro is more crowded than usual. The smell is sometimes unbearable, because you’re trapped body to body with hundreds of other, sometimes sweaty, unshowered people, who have no problem burping or farting on a crowded metro car, because dammit, better out than in!
I remember a few years back, having to do a briefing downtown at the peak of cherry blossom season. We took a car and parked on the street, so we could head to the Pentagon after we were finished with the brief. BIG MISTAKE! It took us an hour and a half to drive the less than three miles to the Pentagon that day! The streets were absolutely packed. It didn’t matter that the light had turned; the tourists just poured across intersections in literal hordes, blocking traffic, and causing irate drivers to lean on their horns! It’s like they forgot that the little illuminated red hand means DON’T WALK, GOOBERS! We sat there through several light cycles until finally, we just started moving slowly toward these pedestrians walking across the street like the red light didn’t apply to them. You should have seen the surprised looks on their faces as they quickly dispersed!
Yeah, I hate tourist season.
I don’t hate tourists per se. They’re people just like you and me. That said, it’s like they lose their collective minds when they hit the streets of Washington, DC, because the power of stupid in large numbers is frightening. So, I’m going to hand out some free advice to those who decide to visit our fair city this year. Ready?
1 – STAND TO THE RIGHT, WALK TO THE LEFT! Seriously, this is the biggest reason why I fight the urge every day to mutilate at least a dozen people. Some of us are on our way to work. Some of us are in a hurry. If you’re not going to walk up or down the escalators, get the hell out of the way! Those of you from Europe know what I mean. If you’re not passing on the highways, you need to be in the right lane. Same principle here. Recognize that not everyone has the entire day to chill and explore. Some of us have jobs and are in a rush to get to them. Get. Out. Of. The. Way.
2 – Federal workers are not monkeys in a zoo! No, really. We’re not part of the scenery, and we’re not there for you to photograph. If you see one of them exiting a federal building – even one as pretty as the White House – realize they are people doing their jobs. They more than likely don’t want to be part of your trip memories, so have some respect for them, and stop taking their photos.
3 – Red means DON’T WALK! If the light turns red, ferpetessake STOP! Again, DC is full of people who actually work there! You clogging the crosswalks when your light turns red, and theirs turns green, is only delaying them from getting where they need to go. It’s rude. It’s disrespectful. Stop and wait your damn turn!
4 – Sotto Voce at Arlington, assholes! Arlington National Cemetery is the place where thousands of military heroes are buried. There are people mourning their loved ones who were lost in war. Have some damn respect. It’s not your family picnic. It’s a friggin cemetery!
5 – The memorials are not wading pools for your crotchfruit! I cannot tell you how many times I was horrified to see parents with their kids, splashing around in the World War II Memorial fountain, despite signs that clearly admonish them not to! It’s dedicated to Americans who served during the war – both in the military and as civilians. It honors those who died and recognizes our victory over tyranny. It is not a place for your kids to splash around. Have some damn respect!
6 – Ferfuckssake, look up! There are people, cars, bikes, segues, horse-drawn carriages, and police with whom you’re sharing roads! We understand that it’s tough to navigate your way around the city, but please, look up to ensure you’re not walking into someone, forcing a biker to swerve out of your way, forcing another pedestrian to dodge your dumb ass, as you stumble about, trying to figure out where your iPhone map app is taking you, and violating admonishment #3.
DC is a busy city. There’s a ton of stuff to see and do. Don’t just stick to the usual spots. Venture out. Enjoy the Spy Museum, the Newseum, Chinatown, the Iwo Jima Memorial, and other neat areas. But for petessake, remember that people also live and work there, and have respect for their time and their homes, OK?