Anyone who rides the DC metro system will tell you that the phrase “Step Back! Doors Closing” is ominous. If you are running down the escalator and you hear it from the top, chances are you won’t make it in time; especially on a tourist filled day. Why? Because anyone who lives here will tell you that if you wish to stand, you must stand on the right. Don’t be surprised if you are visiting and you hear someone shout “Stand on the right!” followed by numerous grunts and groans. You’ve been warned!
We have a lot of rules in DC when it comes to the metro. First of all, there is no talking, ever! You must have your “smart card” in hand and ready to use at least ten paces from the turnstile. Don’t stop in the middle of the walking path to awkwardly look through your purse or pocket to find it. That earns you what I like to call “The Metropolitan Stink Eye” which is the look of death from the person who is walking directly behind you. Folks are busy here, but they will take the time to give it to you; trust me on that!
You must also have some sort of reading material on hand. A word of caution though, if you sit on any train that is the 4,000 series or below, sit next to the window so that you can see which station you are in. Make sure that whatever you’ve chosen to read is entertaining yet mind numbing enough that you can still pay attention. Any tabloid will do. The speaker system on those older cars is horrible. It’s like listening to Charlie Brown’s teacher. Waahh wahh! You can’t understand a word! The LED information lights are also completely useless. They only tell you what you already know; what color train you are on. We love redundancy in Washington. It’s our secret motto. I read it in a manual. It was located right after the page that said “This page intentionally left blank”.
If you are brave enough to drive, bring some sort of Religious object with you. You’ll need it! I myself prefer my rosary. I keep it hanging from my rear view mirror, along with a color-coded sign that says “Pull here for spiritual enlightenment”. I seem to go through a lot of them. Thank God they are free at church!
Driving in DC is difficult. You need to leave yourself at least 2 hours to get anywhere, and that is not an exaggeration. If you happen to be the courteous type and you actually do use your turn signal; rely on the three click rule. Don’t fully engage it. Hold it down long enough to actually hear the clicks, count to three, then get over. If you don’t, the person behind you in the lane that you are trying to get in will inevitably speed up, just to be an ass. Also, don’t rely too heavily on “The GPS Lady”. Mine happens to be a sadist, and I am pretty sure she has a sister.
I’ve broken all of these rules, so this is valuable advice. But then again, they don’t call me “The loose Cannon” for nothing!