Wednesday, July 11, 2012

An open letter to tourists visiting Washington, DC

Dear visitors,

Hello! Welcome to Washington. I hope you enjoy your stay. 

DC is a wonderful place to experience with kids. My parents brought my sister and me to Washington for the first time when we were in elementary school. We had a fabulous time, and I even decided to attend college here and make it my home after graduation. That said, while I think it's awesome that you and your three hellions adorable children have decided to visit my beloved city, allow me to offer you some words of wisdom that will keep me from wanting to kick your ass make your trip more enjoyable.

DC's subway system is great. If your kids are anywhere like I was at their age, they'll find it more entertaining than most of the actual museums and monuments. You'll want to take it everywhere. But when you do, please, listen to the announcements. When the train operator says "doors closing," he's not kidding! They're closing! They're not like elevator doors that will re-open if you (or your backpack or stroller or your child's head--seriously, I've seen it) is in the way! GET OUT OF THE WAY. And, for pete's sake, don't try to hold the doors open. Know why? Because you will break them! This is a surefire way to get a train full of riders REALLY pissed at you, because they will offload the entire train and make everyone wait until a new train arrives. And guess what? When that new train arrives, it will be EVEN MORE FULL than before because now there are TWO trains-worth of people on it. So, please: don't block the doors. It's not hard.

Once you've gotten safely onto the train--congratulations!--and the doors have closed without incident, please HOLD ON. Don't be too cool for school or too good for the handrails, because inevitably YOU will be that jackass who loses his balance and falls over when the train starts moving, landing in the lap of the lady next to you or knocking over 15 other passengers who are just trying to read The Economist or Fifty Shades of Grey on their Kindles. The handrails are there for a reason. We are all using them. You should, too. And hold onto your kids (and make THEM hold the rails), lest they go flying across the car and whack their heads on an armrest or something. Just hold on. Please.

Mazel tov! You've made it to your destination. Now that you've disembarked, make your way out of the station. The Metro station agents are happy to give you directions if you're unsure which exit to use. Inevitably, you'll take an escalator to get up to ground level. But for the love of all that is holy, people, when you get to the top of the escalator, DO NOT JUST STAND THERE! Look, I'm sorry for getting all caps-lock-y about this, but HELLO. There are five hundred people right behind you. You are blocking ALL OF THEM. MOVE YO'SELF OUT OF THE WAY. We understand that you may need to consult a map/iPhone/sign/the North Star to figure out which direction you need to walk to get to the Air and Space Museum or the nearest Starbucks (or, in my neighborhood, the National Zoo). But must you do it directly at the top of the escalator? No. Your iPhone will work just as well if you move six feet to the side. 

Please, don't let this scare you away from using the Metro. It's a great resource that is by far the best way to see the sights. All that we, the residents of DC and the surrounding suburbs, ask is that you use some common sense. There are 700,000-some people just trying to get to work without incident. We're happy you're here, and we'll happily point you in the right direction or recommend a restaurant. We think it's wonderful that your children have the opportunity to visit such a culturally-rich place. We love DC, and we want you to as well. 


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