I walked to work today. Yes, walked. In my new life in DC, I walk to work. Actually, I skip to work.
In London I would take the train and then the tube, and sometimes have to punch a nun to get a seat. I once found myself next to a man, sans headphones and enthusiastically conducting a symphony that only he could hear. He was tapping his pen so violently on his newspaper and on the window that, by the end of the journey, I want to shove it up his penis so he could conduct his own ballsack.
Living a mere skip, hop and a jump away from work has been a revelation. I trill my way downtown with my light, angel feet. For every step I take, a daisy is born in heaven. I radiate goodwill, smile benevolently at my fellow man. Sparrows perch daintily in trees, Thelwell-esque, and sing to me.
Other pedestrians smile, throwing an occasional ‘good morning!’ or “great day!” as you pass by. The other day, a gentleman yelled at a friend “God bless you, ma’am! And god bless your jeans!”
DC is an exceptionally easy place to walk around. Interesting and beautiful architecture, wide, tree-lined streets, the stunning Rock Creek Park; the extreme weather I have experienced so far has not diminished my enjoyment of tramping around this wonderful city.
Even when I occasionally take the metro, I need not suffer the distinctly British discomfort of being forced to make eye contact with other passengers. The clever Americans have designed the seats on trains like those on buses, so I can simply stare at the back of someone’s head and silently judge their hat.
There is a popular bike sharing scheme similar to London’s Boris Bikes, and bike lanes are available in many of the main streets. But I have observed a frightening lack of helmet-wearing by cyclists. I just don’t get it. Horrid, squished hairstyle for the day, or half your skull caved in? It’s a no-brainer. Literally.
But the car is king here. There are more underground car parks than corner shops. People adore their cars. DC’s resident population is just over 600,000, but commuters from the surrounding suburbs bump that figure up to one million during the working week. These people have grown up in vast American states, some larger in size than the UK, where motorised transport is often absolutely the only way to get around. And so to admit to being unable to drive is akin to .. well, think of the worst possible thing you could do, treble it, smear it with a tonne of steaming, fermented fox shit mixed with dead spiders, and then set fire to it. When I mentioned to someone at work that I couldn’t drive, he looked at me in utter horror, like I’d just told him I had herpes and had been using his mug for the past week.
I’ll get my coat, then. And walk.