Here we go again. It’s mid-March and the sidewalks are filling up with khakis and fanny packs already. Just yesterday during my lunch break, I was pushing my way through a group of tie-dyed teenagers on the sidewalk by my office. I overheard one of them say to her friend, “Oh my gosh! We are so close to Obama right now. I’m so excited.” I just wish she was more excited about walking faster and getting out of my way.
Am I a grumpy Washingtonian? Perhaps. But I’m not alone, if you consider the fact that the majority of my friends have the same feeling about the Spring and Summer visitors to our nation’s capital. The overarching opinion is that they stink. Literally. If you’ve ever been on a crowded metro car with a group of middle schools from Minnesota at 4PM in the middle of July, then you understand the smell I’m referring to; it’s putrid.
Us locals have many complaints about those from the rest of the country who descend upon our city like vultures on a carcass during Cherry Blossom festivities, but perhaps the biggest complaint I hear around town has to do with how tourists ride the escalators coming out of the metro stations. If you are reading this, and you are not familiar with escalator etiquette, I implore you to pay attention to what I’m about to tell you. If you never read another one of my blog posts again, please read this next sentence. Stand right, walk left. Again: stand right, walk left. I’ll say it in long form too. If you prefer to stand on the escalator instead of move the legs that God gave you to walk, then please, for the love of the Creator himself, stand to the right and let others pass you on the left. Thank you.
There is nothing that makes a local Washingtonian angrier before his coffee in the morning than a khaki-ass tourist standing in his way as he commutes to work. I promise you, visitors, you will be graciously thanked by us locals via smiles if you comply with this simple command. If you refuse, you will be hissed at and possibly pushed forcefully out-of-the-way by a lady or man wearing a designer pin-stripped suit, carrying a bag that looks like it is packed for days, and wearing headphones and staunch indifference.
I do get very excited about all there is to see in DC. Most of the educational stops in the city are free, which makes it a pretty low-cost entertainment city (as long as you don’t plan on eating or drinking). I absolutely believe that it is the perfect place to bring kids so that they can learn more about history and politics. What better way to truly understand something than by experiencing it firsthand! I always hear rumblings amongst my friends that we do not take advantage of all there is to see and do here as much as we should. So educators, please bring your children to discover living history in our city of nerdy indulgence! However, if you choose to do so, please brief them first on the fact that Washington DC is not Disneyland. This is a real-life, functioning city with people who live, work, eat, shop, and who are not on vacation all the time. Please make sure that the kiddos obey cross walk signs, and do not crowd an entire sidewalk. I cannot tell you how many times I have gotten stuck in a mob of children who had spread out and stopped along a wide-sidewalk to compare all the trinkets and money-wasting garbage they bought at the sidewalk vendor. There are still people who need to get places that do not include any Smithsonian museums or the food court at Metro Center, so please child, stand to the side.
I’m not sure if it is because many people who come to visit DC, especially during the Spring and Summer, are on vacation and away from their own real life, but it seems to me (and others) that many of our tourists have somehow misplaced their smarts. Yes, many of our visitors seem to be just plain dumb. From conversations overheard on the metro, to escalator and sidewalk etiquette, to even remembering how to properly cross a street, tourist season in DC makes maneuvering around the city feel like a complete obstacle course, with people as the obstacles.
I hope that if you are planning on a vacation to our beautiful nation’s capital, you remember to pack your common sense and decency. Please keep in mind that this is not your playground, despite the many fun activities that the city has to offer. We are very happy that you have come to visit, but we are happiest to see you go so that we can enjoy our uninterrupted routine again.
Locals, hold on, Fall is just around the corner.
Happy Cherry Blossoms!