17 July 2012

Things that I’ve learned since coming to D.C.

By the way, this is meant to be humorous, if mostly true, and statements that appear to be blanket descriptions of people or groups should NOT be taken as blanket generalizations, but as descriptions of my personal experiences with people from those groups.

1. When in D.C., don’t take the Red Line Metro (Subway). It tends to catch itself on fire.
2. Crash conferences for good food—or at least for good appetizers. Prepare a story first, though. Maybe you “lost” your name badge.
3. Ask bus drivers if you’re not sure how to get somewhere—they’re really helpful!
4. Talk to college-age people—they’re probably students, interns, or both, and you can learn a LOT from them.
5. Go to Massachusetts Avenue to see a crudton of embassies, churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques—some are BEAUTIFUL.
6. Visit your congressmen—their staff love to see constituents and you’ll get a ticket to sit in on an actual session of Congress!
7. SAVE your sticker-ticker from #6. You can reuse it.
8. There are several colleges in D.C.—Georgetown, George Washington, Howard, University of the District of Columbia, Gallaudet, and Corcoran—visit them all for kicks and giggles!
9. There’s a zoo here—Woodley Park Metro. If you’re terrified of the Red Line after #1, take a bus.
10. Use the Circulator buses. $1 fare!
11. The International Spy Museum’s board includes a bunch of former CIA folks.
12. D.C. has a Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month Celebration—I went and got to see D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.
13. Mayor Gray is currently under investigation for corruption and is totally going down.
14. My office has a sign with instructions for surviving chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks. I’m scared.
15. Hotels charge for internet.
16. The police are racist.
17. Elevators break a lot.
18. Georgetown is an ADA violation.
19. Water costs $3.
20. The rude people are usually white people who work for the government.
21. The nice people are usually students, interns, religious people, tourists, foreigners, or not white people.
22. Cars in D.C. do not stop. Ever. Cross at own risk of death.
23. The people who use the Bike Share almost never wear helmets.
24. Cherry trees are evil.
25. The Secret Service are scary.
26. Lots of people wear lapel buttons with their agency or department seal.
27. Every government building, ever, was specifically designed to make sure that you personally will get lost after going in.
28. Georgetown neighborhood is all rich white people who have nannies, dog-walkers, and special private schools for their scions.
29. Go to Adams Morgan for S. American food.
30. Go to U Street for Ethiopian food.
31. Do NOT eat at a restaurant in Georgetown. They will ROB you.
32. Don’t come here in the summer.
33. I have no friends. Come here this summer.
34. Every dog is for petting.
35. Churches are for air conditioning.
36. D.C. = mosquito heaven.
37. Diplomat license plate = “don’t give a flying crap about traffic or parking laws” attitude from foreigners
38. All the lobbyists have offices in Farragut—so do all the charities. Coincidence?
39. John Kerry lives in Georgetown.
40. Disabled homeless people are faking their disabilities 50% of the time.
41. There are almost no Dunkin Donuts here.
42. It does snow.
43. Lightning storms mean near-constant lightning and power outages.
44. The power companies only care about the powerful people. They couldn’t care less about everyone else and will make them wait days before turning their power back on.
45. The food trucks are ‘spensive! Even New York is cheaper! Only the Fojol trucks are worth it—Merlindia, Benethiopia, and Volathai. Ask for $4 or $6 worth of food. They’re nice.
46. Everyone is more important than you. Get over it now.
47. You need a government or college ID to go into a college library.
48. Everyone is a lawyer.
49. No one actually cares about justice. It’s all a bunch of hollow talk.
50. Being here longer than three months will make anyone a cynic and a pessimist.
51. No one knows you exist. Deal with it.
52. Everyone will notice if you doze off during meetings. Everyone.
53. No one reads your Twitter except your friends from home.
54. No one cares about what you post on Facebook.
55. There are too many lawyers in D.C.
56. Many of them aren’t practicing.
57. Observe where all the tourists eat. Don’t eat there; it’ll be highway robbery.
58. WMATA employees fall into two categories: complete jerks and day-ruiners, and really nice day-makers. There is no in-between.
59. Dupont Metro Station has a habit of being on fire or being flooded.
60. Dupont Circle has the most affordable food.
61. Groceries are expensive.
62. Parking is expensive.
63. Rent is expensive.
64. Everyone is either near-broke or filthy rich. There is no in-between.
65. Meetings are for reassuring everyone else how important they, their employer, and their projects are.
66. When people more important than you (#46) are talking, shut up and take notes.
67. When you are talking, slyly check if the other person is taking notes.
68. Have business cards. Use them instead of “Hello, how are you?” Preferably, have a fancy-sounding title on yours.
70. For interesting conversations with creepy strangers, talk about God and Death and “the spiritual journey.”
71. Buy Street Sense.
72. Talk to people in elevators, at Metro stations, and at bus stops.
73. Lunch is always better when someone else pays for it.
74. Pretend to be a college student. Get discounts on stuff.
75. Security cameras are EVERYWHERE.
76. Churches are EVERYWHERE.
77. D.C. has the country’s oldest mosque in it.
78. Beware of squirrels! They will attack your food!
79. Never buy anything from an on-campus bookstore. They will rip you off.
80. Listen to the street musicians.
81. Don’t listen to the lawyers. They went to school to learn how to BS and now they get paid to do it.
82. Anyone who says they work for the CIA is either lying because they’re attention-fishers or has a really boring job that they still can’t tell you anything about but still want to sound cool.
83. Printing stuff costs money.
84. So do long-distance calls.
85. When you have no friends, you tend to either go over your monthly minutes or depressingly hardly use any.
86. Smoothies are for sad days. Treat yourself.
87. People who work for Congress are very self-important.
88. يستطيع كثير من الناس أن يفهموا هذا.
89. Si puedes entender esto, puedes hablar con todo de los empleados a la Universidad de Georgetown (o la mayoria de ellos).
90. It rains unpredictably here.
91. You are no longer unique or special. There are hundreds or even thousands of people with the same interests and goals as you.
92. No one cares what you think, and no one will for many decades.
93. By the time people care what you think, your opinions and idas will be stale and rather asinine.
94. Clothes are expensive.
95. There is a form for EVERYTHING. Congratulations, part of your brain just died.
96. There are three airports near here.
97. There are protests every day of something.
98. Interns or a staff person actually write the tweets and Facebook statuses of important people. Bubble burst.
99. No one here actually cares about social justice. It’s just something to look good on a resume for a future high-paying job. After all, if we wanted to solve problems, it’d be easy for the millions of so-called activists to actually commit to long-term redress of systemic problems and attitudinal barriers to progress, and we wouldn’t see the exact same things keep happening—but that’d be too easy, wouldn’t it…
100. I have too much free time on weekends.
101. No one does anything unless there’s something in it for them.
102. Sprinkles cupcakes are better than Georgetown Cupcakes.

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