Monday, May 17, 2004

Standing on the Left? You Must Be on Vacation

Washington Post

When I first arrived in D.C., I had no idea there was a passing lane on escalators. On the west coast, this kind of thing is unheard of. In Seattle and LA, escalators are a place to congregate, relax, and hang out until you reach the top. I couldn't understand why all these people cared so much. It's like that Jerry Seinfeld routine:

"I'm always in traffic with the lane expert. You know this type of person? Constantly reevaluating their lane choice. Never quite sure, 'Is this the best lane for me? For my life?' They're always a little bit ahead of you, 'Can I get in over there? Could I get in over here? Could I get in there?' 'Yeah, come on over here, pal. We're zoomin' over here. This is the secret lane, nobody knows about it.'"

That's how I felt about these D.C. people. It's as if getting to the top of the escalator 2 seconds faster is going to decide the election. I think some people even feel their arrival at the top isn't assured. "The odds aren't looking that good, Paul. Look at that fellow, he's passing us! This is it, isn't it? We'll never see Foggy Bottom again! Oh god, oh god! Hurry Paul! Leave the baby! JUST LEAVE IT!"

But then I eventually became one of them. By 9 months, I knew never go near the middle of the orange, blue, or red lines during the day. The tourist hoards take too long to get on the trains, never know that you have to keep your ticket to exit the station, and, yes, don't respect escalator protocol.

In fact, when I went back to D.C. last year during interview season, I found that I reverted back to my old habits. I even felt a little naked without a Washington Post in my hands (they are, or at least were, only 35 cents in some places - what a steal!). Just goes to show you that Potomac fever wears off, but never really goes away. That's little consolation for the abandoned babies, mind.

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