These days have passed by in a bubble and apart from observing never-was fashionistas and watching Herr Meow The Weed grow and amass an impressive vocabulary that is bilingual in its bilinguality (more on that later), I haven't had much of a chance to step into the DC streets and be bowled over with the curious mix of extreme politeness and utter rudeness and cheek that is our nation's capital.
Okay. I haven't had much of a chance to tell you about it, really. Until now.
I was reading OC Girl's blog on the common courtesy of yielding seats to those who need them being dead or just passé, and it made me think about all the things that seem to be dead all around us-- only to be replaced by awkward pauses and silence.
For instance, yesterday I received the newest J. Crew catalog and I actually drooled on it from cover to cover.
It's a sparkling piece of advertising, and it made me lust after sweaters and boots and coats all the more. Let's face it: summer is slowly doing the second act dying swan dance and it goen' git cooooohd, y'all. Not that you need me to point out the obvious, but I bet you could use some creamy cashmere sweaters and a wool blend coat with Thinsulate, so you can be chic AND warm (nothing sadder than a well-dressed person with pneumonia).
Seeing all those cute and skinny models parading themselves around with chic and panache made me realize, though, that most people who do not have a personal assistant or a stylist (myself very much included) just do not try hard enough. Whatever happened to the times of old where women wouldn't be caught dead without gloves, lipstick, and a pretty hat on, and when men always wore hats and knew the proper way to use them --as in, you remove the things before you enter a building, you eternally-baseball-capped morons! We live in sad and frumpy times people. I am not demanding that everyone shop above their means or wear impractical things like lace gloves or ascot ties, but can't we just try --as a city, perhaps?-- to get past wearing flip-flops with everything and rumpled jeans always?
(You don't have to iron your clothes to look unrumpled. Justsmooth them out when they come out of the dryer, gents. It makes a lovely difference!)
I realize I'm in the whiny breeding camp when I bring this up, but I must debate this point of common courtesy cum common sense (would that be easier with a portmanteau like common sensery or something?) when walking down the street.
Do you see those ramps on sidewalks, ye people who are able-bodied and are not overburdened by a wheeled cart of some sort?
Those ramps are not designed to shave fifteen seconds off your mad dash to Eastern Market Metro.
I know. Shocking. The world doesn't revolve around you either-- and don't you shoot the messenger.
They are actually designed so people with wheelchairs, strollers, and those grandma-frumpy yet-oh-so-functional grocery carts can have an easier time getting around. So when you see someone with a wheeled apparatus aiming to use a ramp, kindly step around them and use the sidewalk. I know: it's really that simple, although it does take forethought and an extra 15 seconds.
You don't need a ramp. Be grateful and keep walking.
Dear indigent person who walks the alley at around two a.m.,
Kindly stop throwing empty bottles around and making so much noise, man.
These bottles make a disturbing noise and have awakened me twice this week already --and it's only Wednesday.
If you hang on to those bottles, you can make a fortune off the recycling redemption value.
Oh. What's that? We're not in a cool state that has redemption value for recyclables? Hmm... go figure.
Still. I'd appreciate it if you stopped, and I'm sure someone is willing to pay money for that stuff.
Yield ≠ merge
Left Turn Only lane ≠ your personal merging lane
No turn signal = No letting your rude-person butt in
Flashing RED light = Stop, then proceed with caution
Flashing RED light ≠ "Let's see who can get faster to the intersection!"
Flashing YELLOW light = Proceed with caution.
Flashing YELLOW light ≠ "The road is mine, bitches"
Flashing YELLOW light ≠ Stop. Go. Gooo....ssttttooopp!!! GO!
Pedestrians ≠ Bumper fodder (unless jaywalking in high-traffic area)
The bird = always a humbling experience coming from an elderly woman.
I know that chivalry is dead these days, and that it is a silly double standard to expect the man always to open the door for the woman.
Opening doors for other people --especially those burdened by parcels, appliances, or a stroller and diaper bag-- is actually nice and civilized. You are expected to be civilized when in civilization, so get with the program. And FYI: the genital thing doesn't matter. Doors aren't usually heavy: you can hold them open for a few seconds.
I could have burst into tears when a host of nice Red line passengers made sure to hold the door open so my stroller and those of my two friends could make it without resorting to gymnastics. Wherever you are, nice commuters, please know that you made me dare to trust in my fellow man (and woman) again.
Speaking about the Metro, please remember that the people coming OUT are supposed to do so before the people come IN because otherwise the train becomes unnecessarily crowded and the "Ding-Ding-Ding-Dong" starts going crazy and then the "Dee-Dee-Dee-Dee" that tells you someone is blocking the doors becomes comically furious and people waste time and get upset and call Metro sucky and slow and refuse to ride and their revenue is lost and things go to pot.
So remember, kids: that's another politeness bit.
People coming OUT of a building/closet/enclosure/Metro car/elevator have the right of way (it's your chance, Senator Craig!!) and people coming IN should defer to them.
And, lest we forget, people going UP the stairs also have the right of way and those coming DOWN need to defer (since usually they can see where they are going and gravity is on their side).
Go forth with a smile on your face and remember that while the world is still full of rude and self-important people who seem engaged in endless races to put you and everything about you down, you can still make a difference in one life by being kind and smiling.
Don't knock the cheesiness until you've tried it.