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Another Not-Very-Intellectual Post

July 24, 2008

Having recently moved to DC, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs by the Postal Service. A blend of video-game sounds, up-beat poppy music, and utterly confusing but awesome lyrics comprises this song, and most of the Postal Service’s music.

It’s interesting to observe the loneliness of the District, as this song discusses. Walking around downtown, it is easy to tell who’s a seasoned veteran of the city, who’s a young, eager intern, and who is blatantly a tourist (look for a rant later about tourists and the Metro). While there are other smatterings of people here and there that have escaped the DC stereotype, most of the people you’ll encounter on the daily commute in DC fall into these groups.

Tourists are usually the easiest to tell apart. They dress in normal garb (or in some cases, completely ridiculous clothing), run all over the city planning ridiculously full days of sightseeing, and then end up on the Metro at the end of the day looking tired and somewhat dejected. Travelling in packs of schoolgroups or small family units, these tourists are the most likely to be social… if they’re looking for directions to the nearest metro stop or where they can find a bathroom other than the Smithsonians.

The interns fall somewhere between the sightseeing schoolgroup and the seasoned DC veterans. Huddling together in small groups on the Metro on their way to work, this distinct group exhibits certain characteristics unlike the other two groups. Chances are you’ll find the interns strutting about the city near the beginning of the summer, confident about their new positions, yet with a hint of fear behind their eyes. Safety in numbers is this groups largest defense, and they use it well – especially when frequenting the after-work happy hours that happen every night in the District.

Finally we see the seasoned veterans of the city. People walking around in business suits, finally understanding the loneliness that the city conveys. Pleasant people to be sure, but with a certain air of knowledge. These are the people who’ve been here long enough to realize that in DC, everyone is out to get theirs. “How much money can we solicit from Congress?” or “How can I get my bill passed?” or “Can I convince these people to buy my ideas?” It’s an in and out city – people come in, looking for work, money, confidence, positions, favors… and usually leave realizing that it takes longer than a summer or a season to break into the established and accepted mold of DC. The politicians, business leaders, defense contractors, and other employers-of-interns in the city lead a life that is hard to pin-down because they, like the the Washington Monument many of the represent, remain aloof and alone above the rest of us in the city.

In a city where every move is a political manuever, how does one break through the loneliness that the city exudes?

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