People who have followed the evolution of my blog over the last few years know that I have mostly abandoned the snarky, complaint-of-the-day-type entries I used to write.
While I’m no longer exercising my snark in cyberspace, I have to admit that it’s been tough this week not to rail against the sometimes obnoxious but generally harmless tourists who have descended on Washington like a plague of locusts to devour the cherry trees. These people, who travel in hordes of seven or more all clumped together, seem to view our subway system as their personal amusement park rides while they turn our beloved Prunus serrulata, the Japanese cherry tree, into jungle gyms for their children.
If I were in full snark mode, I’d like to think that my fire-laden pen (or keyboard) might be as effective as the one used by this blogger, who reached his breaking point just as Metro had a record-setting day Tuesday (which was the same day, by the way, that I had to wait for three trains to pass before I was able to squeeze into a sardine can for my ride home from the Farragut North station).
But every time I’ve encountered “them” in the last week, I’ve tried to keep my sanity by assuring myself that only us city folk know to stand on the right and walk on the left of the escalators. I’m sure from a tourist’s perspective, Washington, D.C., is like a kind of federally funded Disneyland, with its attractions, monuments and spectacles, including the anti-nuke/anti-war lady who lives in a box in front of the White House and looks like Sally Field in the Flying Nun as she rides her bike around downtown (the lady wears a kind of turban hat that billows out in the breeze!).
How lucky these visitors must feel to have a special silver roller coaster built just for tourists that rumbles beneath the city and delivers the masses to places with fanciful names like Crystal City and Silver Spring.
But with all that being said, there’s a real opportunity here to change the way I see things. As the aforementioned blogger wrote, it’s very “city” to have this perspective on tourists, especially the ones who break the unwritten rules and buy individual Metro fare cards (the tourists passes, you see, aren’t good until 9:30 a.m., a measure designed to keep them out of our rush hour).
It’s easy to fall into what everyone else thinks, but difficult to take a different view: these are people who are spending their time and money to visit the city I love and the place that I call home.
These are people who are <gulp> guests in Washington.
Given the price of hotel rooms and gas these days, it’s no wonder they want to use public transportation. And think of how much less CO2 gets released into the atmosphere as they abandon the rental cars, minivans and tour buses to ride the subway. Our subway, I guess, since their tax dollars from Iowa, Indiana and Alabama paid to build it.
Welcome to Washington, friends. Now, just please stand to the right and we’ll all get along swimmingly.