The Unclassified DC Survival Guide

As my time in DC begins to wind down, I thought I’d offer a few thoughts on how to survive #thistown. Here are 100 of them.

  1. People will only care about you if they can kiss your ass or take your job.

2. Politics should be about persuasion, not demonization.

3. Some people really are villains, this doesn’t make you the hero.

4. Learn to laugh, especially at yourself.

5. Your interns will write books about you. The statesmen won’t give you a second thought. The latter is better than the former.

6. Job titles change, people don’t.

7. DC is a beautiful city. It’s just full of ugly people.

8. Dress well, you can stand out in DC with very little effort. Most people in this city can’t tell the difference between Armani and Alfani, no need to break the bank.

9. Don’t wear Vineyard Vines. This isn’t a fucking lawn party.

10. Drink in success, stay sober in defeat.

11. The Metro will break down and so will you.

12. Stay in shape. A circle is not the right shape.

13. Food trucks are delicious, cholesterol drugs at 28 are not.

14. Brunch is cool. Getting trashed on cheap mimosas at 11 am is not.

15. Get out of the city on occasion. The Beltway Bubble is real.

16. Weed is legal unless you want a job.

17. Move on your left, stand on your right.

18. You probably aren’t important enough for Politico to want to interview you. That email you just opened is a phishing attack.

19. Oh, you are important enough for Politico to interview you? Well I can assure you that those “performance” pills are also a phishing attack.

20. Unless you pay them, journalists will never write you in the light you want them to.

21. Never trust journalists you can pay off.

22. Everyone you don’t know is a spy, everyone you do know is a witness.

23. I don’t care how hot they are, they don’t need to know our invasion plans for Kazakhstan.

24. Any random person asking about your job is asking too much.

25. You’re young, party cheap. Let others pay for the expensive stuff. CNAS and CSIS do it best. (SO MUCH WINE)

26. Starting a bar fight over the Nats is a bad idea, especially near 8th and I. But if you must, I bet you can take those three Marines in the corner.

27. Empathy, not sympathy.

28. Learn when to walk away.

29. Better to intern on a campaign and have lost, than to have interned on the Hill and done nothing at all.

30. Everyone likes to hear themselves talk. Buy somebody a beer and you’ll learn more than you ever did in college.

31. If you want it done, do it yourself.

32. A question is one, maybe two sentences. I do not want to hear your biography and graduate thesis during this panel.

33. Idealists are useless.

34. Interest groups are just book clubs with money. Lots of money.

35. Georgetown cupcakes taste like cardboard.

36. Friends don’t let friends take Segway tours.

37. Being snarky doesn’t make you clever. Being clever makes you snarky.

38. You are just important enough to be conned by James O’Keefe.

39. The good reporters will take a bullet for their sources. The bad reporters will fire the gun just to get on a morning show.

40. Walk and talks happen. Just remember they don’t happen in a SCIF.

41. If you have to ask, it’s probably an ethics violation.

42. Never work for an organization built around one person.

43. Make friends with the Capitol Police.

44. Taxation is not theft, but you are stealing my time.

45. Medical professionals don’t belong in politics.

46. Say something smart and maybe people will listen. Say something dumb and maybe you’ll find yourself in congress.

47. Protests are for college students and 18th century cosplayers.

48. You are not Alexander Hamilton.

49.No one likes Ted Cruz.

50. Never get star struck. If you do, don’t let it show.

51. No autographs.

52. The Economist is for the informed. The Washington Post and New York Times will be read by your boss.

53. Your choice of daily brief tells me all I need to know about you.

54. Find a healthy way to blow off steam. Take up kickboxing or make an anonymous Twitter account.

55. No one is an expert on North Korea.

56. Learning a language without studying the culture is like learning how to eat steak with chopsticks.

57. At the end of the day, we’re all here to keep the US safe and make it a better place. If you have other ambitions, leave.

58. Prayer breakfasts are a waste of time.

59. Never work a protest against unions. You will lose some teeth.

60.Learn the difference between off the record and deep background.

61. If you get lost in the Pentagon, just go into the bathrooms and chant George Marshall’s name three times. He will get you out.

62. Pentagon City is not the Pentagon metro stop.

63. This is not House of Cards or West Wing. This is Veep and you are probably Jonah.

64. Defense contractors will always rip you off.

65. Your new exchange student friend that you met at the gym and is super cute is probably a spy.

66. If your date is so important in their home country, why are they here?

67. Everyone is a lobbyist.

68. Don’t try to fly your drone over the White House.

69. Government shutdowns never work out the way you want.

70. Don’t say the quiet things out loud.

71. Nothing good ever came from talking to a Russian without a lawyer present.

72. Country over party, agency, or division. Always.

73. Patriotism comes in many forms and you don’t own the rights.

74. You can’t save the world, you can only preserve it long enough for the next generation to step up.

75. Drunk monumenting is fun.

76. No one in this city can drive.

77. The DC government is useless and exists only to give you parking tickets.

78. Assume all public wifi is compromised.

79. Don’t sleep with anyone elected to public office.

80. Don’t drink the tap water.

81. Everybody knows everybody else and the incest is so real.

82. Cava>>>Chipotle.

83. Diplomats really will park wherever they want.

84. The French Embassy throws the best ragers.

85. Treat interns with civility and respect.

86. When in doubt, blame the intern.

87. Never assume common sense will prevail.

88. If it’s plugged in, the Chinese have probably tried to hack into it.

89. Walk everywhere, it’s good for you.

90. The Potomac is dirty fish water and you should never swim in it.

91. IR theory is bunk.

92. No one walks away clean from a knife fight.

93. Don’t panic.

94. DC does burgers well. Pizza not so much.

95. Buzzfeed is not a source.

96. Neither is the Daily Caller.

97. Smoking hookah does not make you cultured.

98. Never sign a petition.

99. Your best friends don’t have to share your politics.

100. If your heart’s not in it, walk away.

Source: Flickr
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