My Suburban Handicap

When my boss told me that I had been chosen to voyage to the other side of the country and represent my company at the Demos conference, I was excited. I’d never been on a business trip before and it sounded like a fun adventure.

I immediately began planning the trip out in my head. I had everything planned out (including the meals I’d make beforehand so that Wes wouldn’t starve) but when my mental train arrived in Washington DC, I was suddenly confronted with a dilemma: How was I supposed to get from the airport to the hotel?

I posed this question during a staff meeting and was met with a short answer from seasoned East-coasters: “Just take the Metro.” Um, what?

They might as well have said, “Just grease up and luge yourself there” for all the good telling me to take the Metro did for me. I have lived the entirety of my happy little life in the suburbs of the West coast. Not only have I never *successfully* taken mass transit on my own, I’ve yet to read a map correctly.

So, when posed with the possibility of reading an arcane color-coded map populated with what looks like garish tape-worms, I was understandably shaken and stirred. One of my colleagues, a DC native through and through, took pity on me and looked up the route and sent me excellent directions.

Once I arrived, I managed to procure a Metro pass (even though I initially stood in the wrong line and had to break my cool imitation of a jaded East-coaster in order to ask for help) and hopped onto what I hoped was the right train.

This picture just about sums up how I was feeling at that moment. I had managed to get on the yellow line, but was it going in the right direction? If I had gotten on the wrong one, I’d have been on my way to Virginia, you see.

Right after I took this picture, a woman sitting in the seat across from me snapped her head up and demanded to know whether I had just taken a picture of her. I, being terrified of East coast natives (word on the street is that they eat polite West coast suburbanites like me for breakfast) promptly denied the accusation and showed her the picture for proof. She then commanded me to take another picture, but with me smiling instead of terrified (I did, but then erased it when she wasn’t looking.)

I managed to transfer trains successfully (though I had to ask a few billion bystanders for help in the process) and made it to my hotel safely. Now that I’m home and safe, I look back on my Metro adventure with fondness.

If I actually knew where I was going I’d probably really enjoy reading a book on the way to work. I might never get used to the scary teenagers on the bus (one of whom either threw me a gang symbol or the ASL sign for a**hole, I couldn’t tell which he was going for and was too afraid to ask) but I might get better at blending in. My good manners made me stick out like a sore thumb there.

5 thoughts on “My Suburban Handicap

  1. I was waiting in line at the Delta Shuttle counter at Reagan International one day when the woman in front of me tried to check into her flight only to be told her flight actually left from Dulles. She started going off on the woman behind the counter about how she specifically requested to have her flight leave from DC and how could it have been booked out of Reagan. I was about to point out to her that both airports were actually in Virginia, but yet both were DC airports, but she left.

    That being said, you were already in Virginia.

    Where was your hotel? If you took the yellow line I’m imagining you transfered at Gallery Place and took the red stop one stop towards Silver Spring and got off at Judiciary square. If your hotel was near the conference.

    FYI, you were ONE BLOCK from my law school

    FYI, I took the red line out to Silver Spring every day when I lived there.

  2. Not being able to edit posts = lame. In the first paragraph, I meant that the woman was incredulous that a flight she requested to leave out of DC could leave from Dulles.

  3. HeeHee, yeah, it’s kinda frustrating when you can’t edit comments after the fact but no worries, I totally knew what you were saying anyway.

    Wow, maybe it’s because you know the area so well because you went to school there but you hit the nail on the head with my Metro route. My hotel was near E street and New Jersey. I could see the Capitol building from the lobby.

    How crazy that you went to law school partically next door! Did you ever eat at either of the two Irish restaurants/pubs nearby?

  4. I’ve shopped at that liquor store, eaten but mostly drank at the Billy Goat, drank in that pub in the hotel lobby, and had over 30 law firm interviews in the Hotel Washington. But I’m not sure which Irish Pubs/restaurants you’re talking about. My Brother’s Place? Drank there, too. I’ve also been to most of the nice restaurants in the area for law firm receptions and the less nice ones for my own consumption.

    Did you go see my law school?

  5. Oh buttons, I can’t remember the names of the places we went to! We walked about 2 blocks away from the hotel (down F street a ways, I think) and there were 2 Irish place side by side. One was more of a rough pub kind of place, the other was a nice restaurant with a 1-word name.

    I saw the liquor store but did not see your school, unfortunately. I did eat at Java Green and the Sticky Fingers Bakery, however. They were both excellent!

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