Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Life in Third World America

I'm in Washington, DC this week helping out in our Washington Office and enjoying the 90+/90+ temperatures and humidities. Here's a picture of my shirtsleeve when I arrived at work, dripping, this morning. Out my cube's window I have a view of the former Newseum building, one of those buildings that was built for a reason (the history of news), in the wrong place (Rosslyn, Virginia, across the river from almost all the major sites and museums of DC), and doesn't lend itself, in form or function, to anything else.

One can easily understand why Congress is looking forward to their summer recess. But the rest of the city stays around and suffers through the summer. I have to say, after a thunderstorm today and a hot afternoon, it did cool off a bit to be less-than-sultry tonite, but then I retreat to my air conditioned hotel, not to a small apartment in a crowded part of town where it is like still sultry.

I've noticed that the infrastructure in DC doesn't get the same sort of attention that many Congressional districts might get. Bridges to nowhere may get built, but almost every Metro station has one or more escalators out of service. No one is repairing them--there are just piles of parts stacked up. Pavements are broken, streets are unkempt, sidewalk patches are made with asphalt and it's not even rolled flat and compacted. Shoring at construction sites is wood with ladders that look like they are made from pallets.

There are lots of black SUVs and vans driving around at high speed--many have government plates--our government. That seems sort of Third World to me. Tin dictators and their minions, zooming about.

The town is full of tourists. I suspect most don't pay attention--they go to the museums, hang out at the Embassy Suites where I am, mowing through breakfast and the "hors d'oeuvres" (potato chips, tortilla chips, cheese whiz, and jalapeños--hope they aren't fresh...), and then head on home after seeing the seat of government and the decaying city around it.

1 comment:

Molly Laurence said...

At least your experience in DC comes with free happy hour and air conditioning every night. In my DC experience my room is sweltering and I have to buy my own booze. :(