Remember that Aesop fable "City Mouse Country Mouse?" After the city mouse went to visit his cousin the country mouse and scoffed at his simple lifestyle, the country mouse came to the big city to see the city mouse only to feel very out of place, missing the safety and peace of his country home? Well, while in D.C., I could not have felt any more like the country mouse.
I love the idea of the big city. I love all of the buildings, the beautiful architecture and history of D.C. It's "cool" to say "Yeah, I'm going to D.C. for work." But I felt like a fish out of water while in D.C. Here are just a few examples:
I had no idea how to navigate the city. I got the grand idea in my head that I would go for a run outside the first day there. So the night before, I tried to map my route, only to give up when I couldn't figure the damn streets out. Fortunately I made that decision not to go because apparently my hotel was not in the best areas. God knows what would have happened had I decided to do this.
When my cousin came to get me for dinner, he walked the streets of D.C. like he owned them. Walking fast and crossing streets with such confidence, and I felt like a little puppy just following behind him. We rode the Metro, and I had to buy a ticket to get on and off the train. Somehow along the way, my ticket demagnetized and I wasn't allowed out. My cousin argued with the guy until he gave in, but I just stood there thinking "why the hell would I need a ticket to get out?" What if he didn't let me out?
And taxis in D.C. don't all take credit cards. The reason I found this out? After dinner, my cousin hailed me a cab, and I got in. About half way there, I asked the driver if he took credit card, to which he told me no. Scared shitless, I looked at the neighborhood around me wondering if he was going to just drop me off, leaving me to get mugged and shot, left for dead. The liar did actually have a credit card machine but got charged for using it. I was a little pissed off about that.
The first day of our conference, we were told that the building would be having fire drills during the day and to just ignore them. Annoying, yes, but whatever. So at lunch, I'm sitting there in the lobby enjoying some peace and quiet and the alarms go off. Everyone ignores them until staff rushes over and says to evacuate. A bomb threat had been called in. And we were ushered outside and left there for two freaking hours. I didn't have a coat, so I tried to hole up in the lobby of a random building but was pushed out by security. So I walked around a CVS, walked around outside, sat in the cold, just watching police and bomb sniffing dogs surround our building. And I seemed to be the only one genuinely bothered. Apparently bomb threats are a daily occurrence. (A side question - who the hell calls in a bomb threat to a Hilton Garden Inn? It's not like it was some government building.)
On my way to the airport at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, again I was in a taxi (the only one near my building at that time of day), and I discovered that yet another taxi didn't accept credit card. So this guy drove me from block to block trying to find an ATM. We found one that worked after three freaking efforts. I withdrew money and paid him upon delivery at the airport. But seriously, credit card? Come on, people.
I couldn't have been happier to come home. Yes, Indiana isn't exactly the big time, but it's home to me. And I was ready for my safe and peaceful home after my venture in the "big city."