An Open Letter to DC’s Tourists

Welcome to our nation’s capital! We love living and working here, and we hope you’ll enjoy your visit to one of the most family-friendly and historic destinations in the United States. To that end, we’ve prepared this short pamphlet, for distribution upon your arrival at train stations, airports, the dropoff corners for the sketchy Chinatown bus, or whatever point of entry you’ve found to our little patch of home. Following these guidelines will make your visit more enjoyable, with the added benefit of preventing us ‘locals’ from wanting to throw you and your family off the Key Bridge.

Happy reading!

Sidewalks: like highways for your body.

If you were happily motoring down I-75 on your way to work one day when you saw something so gosh-darned interesting that you just HAD to take a picture, would you stomp the e-brake in the middle of the freeway and sit parked while you took that picture? Would you? WOULD YOU? No? No! Of course not! That would be VERY inconsiderate, and as we never tire of hearing here in DC, it is us urbane east coast big-city snobs who are the inconsiderate ones. What you would of course do instead is pull over to the side of the road and stop there!

Now, here’s the thing — the sidewalks here are like body highways. We actually use them not only to mosey about, walking five across, posing in front of the Lincoln Memorial (isn’t it beautiful?), but in fact use them to get to work. Or to appointments. Or, generally, to move around with purpose and reasonable speed. DC is full of wide sidewalks and interesting things — the better for photographing or just viewing. And you should — this is your vacation! We do, however, advise that you do so from one side of the sidewalk or the other.

And speaking of moving around….

The Metro: there are some things you should understand.

First of all — yes, it is very funny that many of the metro trains are carpeted! Here in DC, we never tire of reminding each other of this fun fact. Neighborhoods across the district echo with the laughter of countless Metro riders, tickled pink at the new discovery that our metro trains are carpeted. Imagine!

Secondly, and critically — let’s discuss the escalators. These are not like the escalators at the mall — you may occasionally notice in between photographs that many people prefer to WALK up and down these escalators. Often, they will be walking with the aforementioned sense of speed and purpose. Sometimes, if you are violating the unspoken norm of walking on the left side of every escalator and standing on the right, they may brush past you. They may even brush past you in a way that seems rude! In these instances, it is rarely productive to exhale loudly and ask hypotheticals like “rude much?” It is possible that your fellow traveler may be feeling some amount of frustration herself! As an alternative, we propose that you simply stand on the right side of the escalator.

Asking for directions

Actually, we all love giving directions. We’re friendly people. This isn’t New York.

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The author really does love tourists, and now resides in Annapolis, Maryland, so really, he’s not entitled to talk. Photo courtesy: washington.org.

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