Monday, 11 June, 2001

Lincoln Memorial and More Wandering

I finished my work at the client's site early today (tomorrow is user training), and decided to complete my tour of the Mall.  So I lugged my laptop the ten blocks down to the Lincoln Memorial, where I got this picture and a few of the Mall facing east.  I also spent some time at the Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, where I met a former Marine who knows some of the people I went to school with.  It certainly is a small world.  I heard somebody say once that if you were looking for somebody the best place to hang out is London's Trafalgar Square.  Sooner or later, that person is bound to pass by.  If you're looking for an American and you can't afford a trip to Europe, I suspect the best place to hang out would be the Capitol Mall.

Walking back to my hotel (lugging that darned laptop), I noticed some things about the city that aren't apparent on the weekend.  I thought drivers in Austin were in a hurry, but they have nothing on Washington drivers.  These people are impatient.  If the lead car at an intersection isn't moving when the light turns green, somebody a few cars behind will honk.  Green apparently means "you should be moving already."  And although drivers are cautious of pedestrians in much of the Downtown area, they do not take kindly to pedestrians on the slightly less congested streets.  Crosswalk and signal notwithstanding, you're taking your life into your own hands when you cross Constitution Avenue just north of the Lincoln Memorial.

Other observations:  a lot of people walk to work here, certainly a higher percentage than walk to work in Austin.  It's not uncommon to see a man or woman wearing a business suit with running shoes, carrying a pair of dress shoes.  The streets aren't as crowded as Austin streets, either.  As I understand it, most people take a 30 or 60 minute Metro ride from their homes in Virginia or Maryland.  This is my first experience with real Big City living, and it's altogether different than anything I've ever experienced.  There also appears to be a higher percentage of smokers here.  There are cigarette shops on every corner and the hot dog vendors on the street sell cigarettes, too.  Smoking is prohibited in all of the government and office buildings, but pubs and restaurants are a different story.  When we moved from Phoenix we noticed that Texas had a lot more smokers.  Texas has nothing on Washington, though.