With an earthquake and a hurricane taking dead-aim at the nation’s capital in recent weeks, Washington, D.C., is becoming a scary place to live. It already was ripe with frights, real and imagined. Here are the Top 10 Scary Things About Living in
1. Terror threat: Yes, ever since 9/11, Washington, D.C., has had to be concerned about the threat of terrorism. But in true bureaucratic overkill, the response has been installing ugly barriers to provide security and enacting a massive new federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security. Oh, and don’t you feel safer with the TSA groping fliers?
2. Crime threat: While the crime rate in Washington had fallen since it was dubbed the Murder Capital of America in the 1990s, there has always been something to worry about. There were the Martin Luther King riots that destroyed swaths of city commerce, then the destruction brought forth during the crack epidemic and its attendant gang wars. The “D.C. Sniper” terrorized the city for weeks, and now flash mobs of unruly youth are ransacking convenience stores.
3. The Beltway: Technically not inside the city of Washington, the famed Beltway is something to be avoided, with insane drivers and epic traffic jams. Just as scary is the “Inside the Beltway” mentality in which government and politics are the
center of the universe.
4. The Metro: Don’t switch subway lines at Metro Center or Gallery Place at rush hour or be prepared to be confronted with a sea of humanity on the tiny platforms. Expect to be packed in like sardines during the day and share a car with inebriated patrons when the bars let out. And when they say there will be delays on the Red Line, they mean it.
5. Snowflakes: The scariest words that can be uttered in Washington are a threat of snow flurries in the forecast, as the mere mention of a winter storm sends residents into panic mode, emptying store shelves of batteries, milk and toilet paper. A light dusting closes the schools, and woe unto those who are on the road during an ice storm.
6. Parking enforcement: For a city government that can’t get much done, is rife with corruption and runs a horrifically inept school system, Washington, D.C., is stunningly efficient at writing parking tickets and booting cars. Should your car ever get towed, be prepared to navigate some interesting impound centers in sketchy parts of town.
7. Motorcades: You just never know when a motorcade will go whizzing by and the real bigwigs get to have streets closed down while their large entourages buzz around town. And when the World Bank or International Monetary Fund holds a meeting downtown, don’t even think about navigating the roads amid the limos.
8. Suspicious packages: Misplaced backpacks routinely shut down parts of the city, and rare is the time when it is more sinister than a discarded lunch. Yet city blocks are closed and hazmat teams called, with law enforcement officials from multiple federal, congressional and local police forces arriving on the scene to sort out who has jurisdiction.
9. No-fly violations: After 9/11, a no-fly zone was enlarged over the city of Washington, and every time an errant small plane wanders into the area, military jets scramble and Congress is quickly evacuated, giving a momentary boost to the rest of the nation.
10. Liberals are everywhere: This is a city that voted more than 92% for Barack Obama in 2008. Washington, D.C., has been run by liberal Democratic mayors and city councils for years, and it shows, with high taxes and terrible schools, poverty and crime.
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