I want to start off by welcoming you to our fine city. I’m sure that it took a lot of effort to get here and bask in the glory that is our nation’s capital. You had to take time off work, find a hotel, even book a flight. Or perhaps you hauled your family here in a mini-van, singing along to your favorite “Sounds of the ’70s” mix and driving your children insane with your rendition of the Captain & Tennille’s greatest hits (how they let him maintain his Captain status after some of those atrocities, I’ll never understand). I appreciate all the work you’ve put into this trip, and upon your arrival I have just one request of you: Turn around and go home.
Again, I appreciate your wanting to visit. But when you’re here, you drive me effing crazy.
I understand it’s unintentional. I guess I shouldn’t really be angry with you, and as much as I would love to ban every tourist from this former swampland we call the District, I understand that there are more people than just me to think about. There’s a lot to see and do here, and that privilege shouldn’t be limited to those who live in the immediate area. Plus, a tourist ban probably won’t go over very well with all of the neon sweatshirt vendors or the tour office at the Capitol building.
So, if you must visit, please read over these simple guidelines I’ve put together for you. Follow them, and it will keep us non-tourists from kicking you onto the third rail of the metro. You’re welcome.
1. Do not bring 8th graders here. Seriously, don’t do it. Alright, I guess I do want a ban of sorts. Children of 8th grade age can still visit, but not as a class in one big group. I understand that they study the Constitution and such in 8th grade, but I need to be completely honest about something: 8th graders are really immature. They will neither understand more about the Constitution nor develop a greater appreciation for our nation’s history by going on this trip. They will see it as a chance to ride a plane, get away from their parents for a few days, sneak into the rooms of their crushes after curfew, and buy obnoxious, DC-themed neon clothing.
2. Don’t buy a sweatshirt/t-shirt/baseball cap/sunglasses/backpack or any other accesory or piece of clothing that they’ve stamped some Washington, DC logo on and then wear it around the city. Please, by all means, buy it. Fuel our economy, we will gladly take your money. Just wait until you get home to actually put it on, or you’ll look like a putz.
3. Do not stand on the left side of the metro escalator. This is especially true during heavy commuter times, i.e. 8-9am and 5-6pm. Seriously. People will push you out of the way to make their train. If you think about it, I’m not just considering the speed and ease with which I want to get to the platform in the mornings. What I’m really concerned with is your safety–and some of these metro-riders can shove you like an all-pro left tackle (they hit people, right?)
4. Do not stop in the middle of the road/sidewalk/area-you-are-in to snap a photo. At least not without looking behind you to see if anyone is actually trying to walk. It takes 2 seconds–like checking your blind spot. Only instead of avoiding a car accident, you’ll avoid a kick in your shins.
5. Learn how to properly use your metro cards. It really isn’t a difficult task. You put your desired amount of money in the machine. It shoots out a paper metro card. You stick the paper card into a slot, grab it when it pops out, and walk through the turnstile and down to the train. Fairly intuitive, right? I thought so until I saw people standing there awkwardly and confused.
6. Don’t take pictures where it looks like the Washington Monument is sticking out of your pants. Alright, I’ll admit it. I did take those monument pictures when I was an intern, but I feel like it’s worn out. Be more creative, people. How about stepping on the White House like you’re Godzilla? Or pretending the capitol dome is coming out of your butt? Use your imaginations. The possibilities are endless.
7. Do not bring open food/drinks on the metro. I know, that sounds insane, but once you get on a train car and realize that it doesn’t smell like a mixture of urine, vomit and cabbage, you’ll appreciate this rule. So get your Starbucks after the train ride, unless you want to bump into a cop and get a $100 ticket.
8. Don’t set up your big events on Wednesdays. It screws with our softball fields, and then we have to wander the mall searching for a patch of grass big enough to fake an outfield. I’m looking at you, Girl Scouts of America. Rude.
9. Don’t complain when you realize that the reflecting pool is under construction. It’s gotta be done. You need to break a few eggs to make an omlette–or in this case, you need to completely dismantle something (that maybe wasn’t built to just sit there for years and years and years without some severe maintenance) to make it pretty again. Be patient. Nobody likes a whiner, and from what I can gather you’ve already taken enough pictures of every inch of the Lincoln Memorial to last 2 slideshows.
10. Enjoy your visit, and do yourself a delicious favor by grabbing an Obama Burger at Good Stuff 🙂