Monday, September 06, 2004

Smorgasbord: Feelin' Cranky About DC Tourists

I live in DC. I love DC. I love that I live in the nation's capital. I love that families and school groups from all over the country and the world come to experience the amazing vistas and the patriotic lump in the throat that only DC's monuments and sights can provide. I feel it every day when I walk to the end of my street and see the Capitol dome. I have always promised myself that I will leave DC the precise second that I no longer feel that flutter in my heart whenever I walk past a monument in the course of my daily, pedestrian business. If you stop feeling lucky, you become one of "those" people who are here to take rather than give. Jaded people should not live or work in DC, contrary to popular belief.

Having said that, I'm about to embark on a rant. About tourists. So the above paragraph can serve as my disclaimer, okay?

I live in fear every day that a tourist will walk in front of my car, fall into the metro tracks, or just plain find some mindless way to ruin their vacation. They are CLUELESS. It's like, "okay, kids! pack up your clothes! But leave your brains behind!" I cannot count the number of times that I have been driving on Independence Avenue (the very busy and very "main" street between the National Mall and the FDR Memorial), my light is green, my moving vehicle is clearly visible---and yet entire families and tour groups will saunter out into the road as if traffic has never existed in DC or Massapequa or American Fork or Salem or Bemidji or wherever the h*ll they are from in the first place. So I'm honking my horn as I slow down, ie, "hellllloooooo! Main thoroughfare! Your 'Don't Walk' sign is illuminated!" and they sort of stop, stand in the middle of the street, and look at me as if I ought to stop and let them go ahead. They just look puzzled that there should be traffic right here in the middle of this main, 4-lane road! "Traffic?! Right here in River City?!! But we're on vacation! There's no traffic on vacation!" IT makes me CRAAAAAZAZZZZY!

Same on the Metro. The train doors--as the announcement says--"do not reopen." But every single solitary time a bunch of tourists tries to enter en masse, at least one schmo will get him or herself stuck in the door and have that terrifying 3 seconds where they think the train is about to leave with their backside hanging out the door. Luckily the drivers look down the platform before heading out, and the trains will not operate with doors open or else the Metro would be like Thunderdome: two idiots enter; one idiot leaves.

Short Story Long: I love that tourists visit; I love taking photos for them as I walk by them at the Supreme Court building or wherever. I am always friendly, maybe as a reaction to the prevailing belief outside the beltway that those of us inside it are jerks. But I just truly live in fear that I am going to witness the untimely demise of some poor schmuck from Terre Haute outside the Library of Congress, and now that that streets are closed for Homeland Security Reasons, the ambulances will not be able to get through the roadblocks and he is gonna bite it at the hands of some punk-a** hill staffer's BMW. Or worse, the ambulances WILL get through and he'll be taken to a local DC hospital...

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