Why do I live here?

I know that since I moved to Bigsoccer, I am supposed to keep my non-soccer ranting to a minimum. Today, I break that pledge, to bitch about the area in which I live, Washington DC.

Yesterday, on a clear, cold day with no precipitation falling of any kind, it took me nearly three hours to drive 15.5 miles home from work. That’s a pace of around 5 miles per hour. To put it in some perspective, it normally takes me around 40 minutes to get home and it can take as little as 30 if I do it at odd hours. It appears that the mere presence of snow on the side of the road and a few closed lanes due to plowing-induced snow banks reduced DC’s evening commute to speeds (and I use that term loosely) I thought were only reserved for Mexico City traffic. Traffic reporters were actually telling folks getting in their cars to go back to their offices for a few hours. And I remind you, there was no catastrophe causing this – no shampoo truck crashing on the beltway and spilling Pert Plus all across the road (true story), nobody attempting to jump off the Wilson bridge (true story), no poison gas drill freaking people out as they see people in outbreak suits outside the Pentagon from their cars (true story). There was none of that. And for those of you asking why I don’t just ride the Metro or a train to work, ask Ed. He rides a train to work everyday and I assure that it too is a miserable experience.

This made me ask this question, yet again, why is it that I choose to live here? Moving away from the fact that this city would handle a nuclear attack better than it handles a foot of snow, let me count the reasons that DC sucks. Let’s start with the fact real estate prices here ensure that you start each month by writing a check for a staggering amount of your monthly income. Let’s move on to the weather here. The pleasant bits of Fall and Spring now last, thanks to climate change (yes, I said it) about 10 days before the unpleasant cold or torturous heat sets in.

Meanwhile, if you’re in search of a cheering up (especially while sitting in traffic), you could turn on the radio except that the last halfway decent rock station (WHFS) and last decent non-sports talk show (Don and Mike) have both gone off the air, leaving you with nothing but Clearchannel-approved crapola and hour-upon-hour of mindless, anguished wailing and speculation about the Redskins. I should also remind folks of the little known rule here that only one local sports team is allowed to be remotely good at any given time. Thus you have a situation where the Caps are great, but the Skins and Nats are national laughingstocks, the Wizards are mediocre are best and even the Georgetown and Maryland hoops teams are struggling. Do I even have to remind you how I think the local MLS team is doing?

But today, as I brace for another multi-hour drive to go 15 miles, can somebody please remind me why it is that I, or anyone else here, actually chooses to live in this place?

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34 thoughts on “Why do I live here?

  1. I once had a 6p meeting in Arlington. Clever me – I left the office in Fairfax at 4. I was late. So I moved to Seattle. I won’t say anything about the upgrade to my MLS team

  2. The problem is the dicey walk from my worksite to the nearest Metro station, especially in the evenings. I would take the Metro if I hadn’t heard of people getting mugged between the station and my office.

  3. I have no idea how you can live there. You people are insane. There are jobs elsewhere, get-out. The only drawback to living here in Hampton, VA is that it’s a few hours to DC for matches and I have to drive through NoVA and DC to get to RFK

    Other than that, my overpriced home costs a fifth of what it would probably cost in your metro area, and I still feel like I got raped on it.

    You’re asking all of the right questions..now move!

    Also, out of curiousity. What is the appeal of the area? Other than DCU and a bunch of awesome touristy things that you’ve seen a dozen or more times each, what appeals to you about the area?..personally, nothing comes to mind..nothing

  4. A. Relatively low unemployment

    B. It’s pretty

    C. Dating scene so imbalanced in guys’ favor that I know a total dweeb (no personality, hairline issues, not a nice guy by any stretch of the imagination) who managed to pit two out-of-his-league women against each other in near-mortal combat

    D. Good schools

    E. MLS team

    F. Ovechkin

    G. Occasional opportunity to hurl insults at Congresspeople in person

  5. no shampoo truck crashing on the beltway and spilling Pert Plus all across the road (true story)

    Was Paul Caliguri driving?

    C. Dating scene so imbalanced in guys’ favor that I know a total dweeb (no personality, hairline issues, not a nice guy by any stretch of the imagination) who managed to pit two out-of-his-league women against each other in near-mortal combat

    But enough about Steven Goff…

    *ducks*

    So yeah, the fact that DC people can not drive in like a quarter inch of snow was one of the first things my cousin (who grew up in upstate New York and has now lived down there for over a decade) commented on when she moved. Hasn’t changed since I guess.

  6. …or the empty space in said MLS Team’s trophy case.

    …or the steady rainfall that makes Niagra look like a picnic.

    …or the folks who ‘gave’ us grunge.

  7. Part of the problem with the DC Traffic scene is that there is such a large population of drivers that learned to drive (or perhaps did not learn how to drive) in other countries and do not necessarily follow the same “common sense” driving school of thought.

    Now, if DC had a real public transportation infrastructure (like NYC) that allowed a large number of people to avoid having to use their cars, then we might be in a different situation.

    That said… DC sucks for a lot of reasons and the only reason you’re here is that you can’t convince yourself that the annoyance of moving is worth the joy of living someplace else.

  8. i graduated in may, and my mom, being my mom, begged me to find a job in dc, which, for all intents purposes wouldn’t be so hard, until i saw starting salaries vs. taxes, i make more with the same base pay than someone in dc after moving to the richmond area, solely on tax relief, but going to option c., every girl here has a kid by the age of 20

  9. Why do I live here?

    Isn’t the general answer best … I came here in my twenties to have some fun after college. I forgot to leave. Now I have a ‘career’ of sorts, and it a pain in the ass to pull up the tents and move.

  10. No more Don and Mike? That’s the only thing that kept me sane on my commute from Baltimore to Alexandria*. Glad I got out when I did.

    *During which I once had a tar truck tip over at the end of the Wilson bridge while I was in the middle of the span. I could literally see my office, but it took 3 hours to turn around all of the rush hour traffic and get me off the bridge. Now my commute is 5 minutes by bike. Hooray!

  11. Your problem isn’t that you live in this place, it is that you DON’T live in this place. Ditch your car and move to city. More living, less driving.

  12. Basically. Its a serious pain to move somewhere and quite frankly DC stacks up pretty well against most other Metro areas (seriously I lived in Oklahoma City, Birmingham Alabama, and that horrid @%&# hole Los Angeles)/ Would I rather be somewhere else? Yeah I got a list of 10 US/Canadian cities, but DC isn’t horrid enough for me to put in the effort.

  13. Bingo.

    Saw a car parked where it never should’ve been parked a couple of days ago, and it’s blocking a substantial amount of road that could otherwise be plowed and used. That car has “DIPLOMAT” plates.

    That too.

  14. Hailing from Los Angeles, I have no qualms whatsoever with anyone talking down on LA. (Unless you’re that girl who was being an idiot in my comments section just to spite me, that is)

    For those of you that watch Curb Your Enthusiasm and wonder, “Wow, is everyone in LA really that petty and self-absorbed?” Yep.

    It’s just not a very friendly city, populated by not so friendly people. Superficiality is at a premium. There is zero sense of community. Racial tension is strong and often misplaced (i.e: everybody hates everybody) There’s a reason the movie Crash took place in Los Angeles.

    LA blows.

  15. Your story reminded me of the last time I was in DC. I live in Fl, so have none of the snow horrors, but then we have hurricanes and we also have the “people”. Meaning that any national lead that starts off with a child abduction, or any wierd incident, the bottom line is that it happened in Fl.
    That being said, I remember back in the early 80’s, (maybe some of you long timers will remember this), but I flew to DC to see a friend. I was an art teacher and told the principal that I had to have a root canal. I arrived in DC in pleasant weather, only to awaken to 23″ of snow. It shut the city down, and I also remember the headlines of the papers said, “How can they be off by 20”, of something to that effect. By the time I got back home, I had a lot of ‘plaining to do.

  16. LA is up to its eyeballs in people who hate being here, which helps explain your lack of community aspect. At least celtigo had the common decency to ******** off out of town. Lose about half amillion New Yorkers and Chivas fans and the place would be liveable again….

  17. Because Fairfax County is the most, absolutely, beautiful place to live in this part of the east coast, and other place I had the fortune to visit. I wouldn’t trade the Fair Oaks, Fair Lakes, Tysons Corner area for nowhere in the US. Because DC is hip, because my parents leave here. Because in spite of any of the traffic and metro issues that I share with you, I really don’t think (I have visited several cities in the US, except the west coast) that are better than the DC area.
    Because my pay is good compared to my cost of living and I don’t think I’d find that in NY, Fla, LA or Chicago.

  18. Your problem isn’t that you live here, it is that you DON’T live here. Ditch the car and move into the city. More living, less driving.

  19. Drivers in the DMV (DC/MD/VA) can’t drive in a light rain, much less 1/8th of an inch of snow. It’s not uncommon to see people driving on the beltway with flashers on when it rains hard (WTF?).

    The roads have been clear here for about 3 days and people are still having accidents like they are driving on ice. One $@#$!@# managed to rear end me the other day near Tysons.

    Jobs and good schools – plus a house that I own are reasons I live here – but I”ve been thinking hard… real hard…. about finding another spot.

    If it wasn’t for politics and shortsightedness maybe we could get some better transit options – the metro is not getting it done and is already overloaded as it is (and who was the genious who designed a system that runs on only two tracks?? – the extension out to Dulles is a joke as the train is already full at West Falls Church), buses sit in the same traffic I have to drive in, and HOV lanes are as slow and clogged as the regular lanes (at least on the Dulles Toll road).

  20. I gotta disagree with you about Don and Mike… they are AWFUL. Everything that’s cliche and cheesy about drive-time radio hosts with awful sound effects and zany antics… so now I question your taste (or age actually). But man… do I love the DC/Nova area. I lived in Reston VA for two years, and to this day when I go back I feel like I’m home (not originally from the D-M-V). There’s something special about living there- if only it was more affordable. It’s a melting pot but not as crazy as NYC, and there’s so much to do besides the “tourist” attractions. I envy that you get stuck on the beltway and pay too much- I’d move back in a heartbeat if I could

  21. Aaron, I left. Went to grad school in SC, then ended up in Atlanta. I definitely didn’t want to return to the CF that is DC — the traffic and real estate costs are insane. Great city, but those two things take away too much. Oh, and the types of jobs, for me anyway, are boring. Too much government-based crap (which is good in a recession, but just boring as hell). And the metro? Expensive as hell.

    As for Don & Mike — I had listened since 85. Even downloaded their show everyday until Don retired a year and a half ago. Now that Mike was kicked to the curb, they’ve got a podcast that they just started (Mike, Robbay, Buzz, Big O). Better than nothing. Something like mikeomearashow.com (can’t access it from here).

    Don will return to radio in some way in a year when his CBS contract is up. He’s on twitter if you want to see what he up to.

    As a fan of D&M, and talking about the snow….BREAD MILK TOILET PAPER! Panic!

    Oh, and RIP George Michael. CHHHICAAAGO!!!! (another D&M reference).

    At least the Junks know about DCU…

  22. I live here, and I almost never have any traffic problems, ever, even when the weather is awful. I accomplish this by actually living in the city, rather than in the enormous sprawl of suburbs and exurbs and collector roads around it.

    The worst traffic jams I’ve ever seen near DC have been but a pale shadow of those I saw around Chicago. You’re absolutely right that folks here can’t drive in bad weather; but you don’t need bad weather in Chicago to have a 15-mile-long tailback on the Eisenhower. Heck, I got caught in four-mile-long stop-and-go traffic on the Dan Ryan once, with no wreck or construction or anything like that as its cause, at three in the morning.

    OTOH, I agree with some of your other complaints. I lived in the Boston area for a while, and the weather was far better there. Someone out there is probably imagining a Boston winter and thinking that I’m crazy for saying such a thing. But while winters are relatively better here in D.C., they still suck — they just suck less. And since they suck in both places, whether you’re in D.C. or Boston, you hide inside during the winter. In contrast, in the summer, you can enjoy the outdoors in Boston; in D.C., you have to hide inside in the summer too.

    But let’s fess up to the single biggest reason one lives in D.C.: an almost-recession-proof local economy. The Federal government isn’t going out of business, and it’s not going to stop shoveling money to contractors either. So there will always be lots of money being spent here, and thus lots of jobs and job opportunities. Housing is ridiculously expensive here, yes. But Mary and I bought a place a few years ago, and we’ve watched the value of our house stay stable in an economy where real estate prices have tanked pretty much everywhere else.

    There are lots of places much better than D.C. I’ve lived places with better weather, cheaper housing, better transit systems, less crime, better music scenes, etc. But D.C. isn’t so relatively awful in all these areas that it overwhelms what I do like.

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