Rudeness in DC

Anna North shares her experiences of unpleasant and ill-mannered people in various American cities. Aside from The Internet, I haven’t actually been to any of those places except for New York, and not very much time there. From my admittedly brief and touristy time spent there, I haven’t found it to suffer from any lack of courtesy (aside from Canal Street being a ridiculous shit show), and maybe that’s because I live and work in the DC area. The comments are a free-for-all, with everyone talking about how various cities and areas have treated them badly, and DC occasionally comes up, especially regarding Metro behavior.

Perhaps because I’ve lived here nearly my entire life, I don’t find DC a particularly rude city. Maybe I’m part of the problem, but I think it’s just the culture that tends to develop in a city of strangers, which we are. I think we suffer from a lot of the same issues as New York, though to a lesser extent; we have a lot of people trying to get from one crowded place to another in a small amount of time. We have a lot of people coming in from all different parts of the country (and the rest of the world) and that brings a lot of different cultures, with their own standards of etiquette, bumping uncomfortably together. The cost of living is high, the mass transit system is busy, and folks have a lot of stuff to do and places to go. It may be a vacation for you, but for us it’s just the daily shlep. We don’t mean you any harm. We don’t want you to get lost, mugged, ripped off or otherwise humiliated. We just tend to err on the side of minding our damn business.

If there’s anything that genuinely bugs me about the culture of courtesy here, it’s that we don’t have the spine to call people out for doing things that are seriously not called for. Music blares from headphones halfway across the car, handbags get seats to themselves, and priority seating is used inappropriately. And we hardly ever call these cretins out.

So, with that in mind, I will not apologize for this much: if you are in the Metro system, and you block up the escalators? And yes, I do include anywhere in the confines of Union Station as part of the Metro system, and for some reason—could it be all the out-of-towners using the Amtrak station, perhaps?—that is the worst place in the city for dumbassed escalator behavior, so take note. If you are in our mass transit system, and you think the left side of the escalator is a good place to stand still? You deserve what you get. At least nine times out of ten, you won’t get called on it, but if you do happen to land that 10th time, and someone yells at you for getting in the way? You should’ve thought about that. Welcome to the nation’s capital, but don’t you make our commute home from work take any longer.

Also, if you’re of the Tea Party persuasion, just don’t come to DC at all. We’re all gay here, and we carry dildos. We’re like the new San Francisco.