For those who take trips to DC…

If you are from D.C. or the surrounding area, you’ll understand these rules. If you are coming here, you’ll learn these rules. If you are just going to visit, give up. Read, enjoy and then destroy them.

1) First, you must learn to call it by its rightful name. It is D.C., or “the District”. Only tourists call it Washington.

2) Next, if your road map of Montgomery County is more than a few weeks old, throw it out and buy a new one. It’s obsolete. If in Loudoun or Fairfax County and your map is one day old, it’s already obsolete.

3) There is no such thing as a dangerous high-speed chase in D.C. It’s just another chase, usually on the BW Parkway.

4) All directions start with “The Beltway”…whic*h has no beginning and no end, just one continuous loop that locals believe is somehow clarified by an “inner” and ‘outer loop’ designation. This makes no sense to ANYONE outside the Beltway.

5) The morning rush hour is from 5 to 11 AM. The evening rush hour is from 1 to 8 PM. Friday’s rush hour starts Thursday morning, especially during the summer on Route 50 eastbound.

6) If there is a ball game at the FedEx Field, there is no point in driving anywhere near PG County.

7) Tip: Never say PG County to anyone from Mitchellville, Upper Marlboro or Fort Washington. They’ll blow a vessel in their neck and go into a seizure.

8 ) If you actually stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended and shot at. If you run the red light, be sure to smile for the $100 picture you will receive courtesy of DMV. (However, if you don’t go as soon as the light turns green, you will get cussed out in 382 languages, none of
them English.)

9) Rain causes an immediate 50 point drop of IQ in drivers. Snow causes an immediate 100 point drop in IQ and a rush to the Giant for toilet paper and milk.

10) Construction on I-270 is a way of life and a permanent source of scorn and cynical entertainment. It’s ironic that it’s called an “Interstate” but runs only from Bethesda to Frederick. (Unless you consider Montgomery County another state, which some do). Opening in the 60’s, it has been torn up and under reconstruction ever since. Also, it has a “Spur” section which is even more confusing.

11) All unexplained sights are explained by the phrase, “Oh, we’re in Takoma Park or Greenbelt”.

12) If someone actually has their turn signal on, they are by definition, a tourist. Car horns are actually “Road Rage” indicators. Heed the warning.

13) All old ladies in Buicks have the right of way in the area of Leisure World.

14) Many roads mysteriously change their names as you cross intersections. Don’t ask why, no one knows.

15) If asking directions in Arlington, Langley Park, Wheaton or Adams Morgan, you must know how to speak Spanish. If in PG County, Ebonics will be your best bet. In Annandale, a Cambodian or Vietnamese dialect will come in handy. If on Dupont Circle, Capital Hill or U Street, a gay dialect helps.

16) If you stop to ask directions in Southeast… well, just don’t.

17) A taxi ride across town will cost you $12.50. A taxi ride two blocks will cost you $16.75. (It’s a zone thing, you wouldn’t understand) (Oh, and if you are in DC and want to go to MD, don’t tell them until you get in the car…they won’t take you otherwise)

18) Traveling south out of DC on Interstate 395/95 is the most dangerous, scariest thing you will ever do and when you hit it, you will wonder why the section of this road called “the Mixing Bowl” is so named. After all there is no mixing there, heck, there is no movement at all.

19) There is nothing more comforting than seven lanes of traffic cruising along at 85 mph, BUMPER TO BUMPER!!!

20) The minimum acceptable speed on the Beltway is 85. Anything less is considered downright sissy.

21) The Beltway is our daily version of a NASCAR reality show. Strap up and collect points as you go.

22) The open lane for passing on all Maryland interstates is the far right lane because no self-respecting* Marylander would ever be caught driving in the “slow” lane. Unofficially, both shoulders are fair game also.

23) The far left lanes on all Maryland interstates are official “chat” lanes reserved for drivers who wish to talk on their cell phones. Note: All mini-vans have priority clearance to use the far left at whatever speed the driver feels most comfortable multi-tasking in.

24) If it’s 10 degrees, it’s Orioles’ opening day. If it’s 110 degrees, it’s the Skins opening day.

25) If the humidity is 90+ and the temperature is 90+, then it’s May, June, July, August and sometimes September

And there will be MOAR than one case of this…



For those who take trips to DC… — 19 Comments

  1. 85 on the Beltway? Uh, every time I hit it it seems I was doing <5MPH!

  2. To those of us to live in the Greater Los Angeles Area, your complaints of “traffic” — as you call it, having to speak a foreign language to order fast food and urban congestion ring a familiar bell.

  3. All true except for the cab bit. They’ve finally put meters in DC’s cabs, much to the disappointment of cabbies who went to sleep every night dreaming of taking a whole family four blocks across three zones near the Tidal Basin and collecting big on the per-passenger surcharge to boot.

  4. I operate a Courier business in Roanoke. When someone request service to N. Va. I tell then OK as long as the delivery can be completed between 11 am and 1 pm. You have not exaggerated at all !!!

  5. Your post brings up two items of interest-

    1. I got the best hummer of my life in 1981 at 4:40AM on the beltway in bumper-to-bumper traffic doing 85mph…
    The Girlfriend & I were on our way to Cherry Hill NJ and she was trying to keep me awake.

    Good times, good times.

    2. I hate driving through the Megalopolis…
    When traveling to NY or NJ by car, truck or motorcycle (as I usually do at least once a year), I exit I-95 at Emporia VA, head for the water, cross the Chesapeake, have lunch on the Outer Shore, take the ferry across at Lewes and rejoin 95 around Exit 11. Longer, yes, but it keeps me from bursting a blood vessel trying to navigate DC, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philly and a huge chunk of the NJ Turnpike.


  6. As one who remembers when The Beltway was under construction allow me to offer the following:
    A) When north bound on I-95 across the Rappahannock River the number of vanity plates doubles and driving IQ halves.
    B) There is NOTHING more dangerous than a soccer-mom driving a minivan taking her special snowflake to school.
    C) VDOT employees who design signage are heavily into recreational drug use.
    D) Metro Transit(WMATA)has finally realized some people want to travel suburb-to-suburb and NOT directly to downtown DC.
    E) WMATA is quite possibly the most corrupt and inefficient organization outside of Chicago and New Orleans.
    F) Get fast service in Montgomery Co. and especially Tacoma Park stores wear an NRA hat. They’ll serve you quickly so you won’t go postal and killthemallbcauseyouownguns!!!!!! On the other hand I was asked to leave a store in Tacoma Park while I was wearing an NRA hat. How tolerant.

  7. We have our Belt Way… it’s I-285 or know as Ring Around The Congo. Most everyone who works in ATL lives outside 285. The only time, other that work, that people go inside the 285 is for a ball game of some sort. I say way away from the place at night, too.

  8. Les- More the norm than the exception… Trust me!!!

    Suz- Or hate it… 😀

    LL- Yep, sigh…

    Murph- True, I’d forgotten that…

    Woody- Good idea!

    WSF- Probably… dammit…

    Anne- You’re welcome!

    TBG- LOL, why am I ‘not’ surprised 🙂 And if I thought I could get away with that, I’d do it too… But I don’t think they’d like me going 3 hours South to turn around and go North…

    Stretch- Thanks for the history lesson! 🙂

    CP- Understood, althought I ‘have’ gone through ATL on I-20 at 0400 and NEVER got under 80…

  9. When I travel between my current place in NJ and soon to be my ONLY place in North Carolina I go a couple hundred miles off the direct route (I-95) and take the Pennsy pike to Rte-81 South.

    Takes a bit longer but the stress levels are low.

  10. Hahahahaha! All correct. And add that if you are trying to dodge 95 congestion by secondary roads be careful. There was the time I found myself on a bridge watching with horror as I headed right by the Jefferson Memorial. At night. Before GPS. And you do NOT want to stop to ask directions!

  11. 11) All unexplained sights are explained by the phrase, “Oh, we’re in Takoma Park or Greenbelt”.


  12. That brings back a lot of memories. I was on the outer loop one fine day, just past the mixing bowl, when I saw a glass truck ahead of me. Its load was vibrating. I moved over two lanes and bulled my way past it. I had just passed the truck when it started to shed its load of glass panels.

    That was not the worst day on it. Had to drive 2/3rds of the way to Harpers Ferry in order to get home one afternoon when a truck caught fire on the Cabin John Bridge. Another similar incident on the same bridge had me arriving at work at 1330.

    Now, if it takes me more than five minutes to get home, I’m cursing at the traffic.

  13. Thank you for the reminder as to why I moved from Alexandria and took a job in a little out-of-the-way spot 30 miles from civilization. I’ve never regretted it, even if I will be a “come here” my entire life.

  14. PH- OH yeah… sigh

    Laura- LOL

    CM- Yeah, I lived 12 miles from work, 20 min on a GOOD day, 1 1/2 hours on a BAD day… Agree with all!

    Nancy- If it works, it ain’t wrong… and where you are WORKS! 🙂

  15. i remember the one time i found myself in Tacoma Park. saw something particularly strange, asked the person driving the car WTF i saw…he shrugged and said “welcome to Tacoma Park.”