Showing posts with label on the go. Show all posts
Showing posts with label on the go. Show all posts

Friday, July 26, 2013

Free Form Friday: Running

I've been a runner on and off for my entire life.  As of this week, it's on again.

To be honest, something about this time feels different.  I'm not in my 20's anymore.  It's a bummer, but it's true.  I'm not sure my metabolism can get out of its own way.  And that is No Bueno.

So, with the gravitas of a thirty-something working mama, blogger, other blogger, volunteer, wife, daughter, sister, and friend type of person, I'm recommitting to running.  You heard it here first.  (Or, if you work with me, you saw my sweaty mess of a self after a lunchtime run this week.  Yes, that was me.)

What I will not commit to, however, is any of these common running no-nos.  Dude, just because you've run twenty seven ultramarathons does not mean you can blow your snot rocket at me.  Nope.  

I love Runners World.  And I love the idea of being able to give people tickets.  Anyone who knows how I can get deputized should definitely email me.

Hope you commit to something healthy (and proper) today.

Ta ta for now,
Proper Paige

PS:  It might be worth $5 if you really have to fart.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Free Form Friday: How to Meet a Band

I heart Boston.
The other weekend, I had the fun of an out of town girls' weekend.  It was a chance to catch up with some of my best friends from college, have a really awesome gimlet, and not change diapers for a few days.  (Thanks again, Proper Husband.)

I also heart vodka gimlets.
I connected on the way home through the lovely aeronautical Xanadu known as Newark Liberty Airport.  (When did they name it "Liberty"?  Have I been away too long?)  The gate was full of tired people waiting to be taken back to Austin.  I chose a seat and added myself to their ranks.

As I sat and read and waited, I noticed that there was a group of guys sitting near me.  They seemed remarkably normal for people you usually get stuck sitting next to at the gate.  In fact, they seemed like people Proper Husband and I would be friends with.  I also astutely observed that it's not all that common for six hipster guys in their twenties-maybe-thirties to travel together.  Had I just won the airport lottery by waiting, exhausted, next to normal people?  (In marked contrast to the malodorous man who was attempting to tell an uninterested woman about his long journey home from Norway about six feet to my left?  Eek.)  Perhaps.  

But, darn it, they sort of looked familiar to me.  I was 100% sure that I didn't know them.  But, did I know of them?  Crap.  Headline:  Etiquette blogger freaks out perfectly normal people by staring at them in airport.  Film at 11. Since they were flying to Austin, and Austin is the Live Music Capital of the World, I drew the conclusion that they were, in fact, a band.

How did I deduce this?  Well, it occurred to me, and then I asked them.  They are Explosions in the Sky, a super awesome Austin band that is (wait for it), playing both Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza this year.  They were really nice about me blithely asking them if they were in a band.  Which, I guess, you can be when you are in a band and that band is kind of awesomesauce.  

So, thanks guys.  Nice to meet you.  

To my readers, what does this have to do with etiquette?  Well, Emily Post probably wouldn't have done this.  But you know what?  It's 2011 and you've got to live your life.  And meet the band, maybe.

Rock on,
Proper Paige

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking Questions Tuesday: Sushi-quette

One of my favorite foods in the universe is sushi.  Full stop.  I could eat it every day.

photo credit

When I was introduced to sushi many years ago, I was made aware that there are some etiquette nuances to eating this lovely cuisine.  Without sounding like a cultural bull in a china shop, Japanese culture has many etiquette nuances.  As a Japanese cuisine, sushi therefore has a few of these nuances, as well.

Are you telling me that there is sushi etiquette?

In a word, yes.  But it's nothing to worry about.  It's just something to be forearmed with, much like your chopsticks, as a tool for enjoying the experience.  That said, here's a quick list of the top tips that will help for a suave sushi eating time.

Love edamame.  But don't order them from the sushi chef.

1.  The sushi chefs are rock stars.  Treat them as such.
Uh, Proper Paige, it's very cool that they are feeding me raw fish art, but what do you mean by this?  In short, I mean -- don't order drinks or appetizers from your sushi chef.  They are there for one purpose -- the sushi.  Other needs will be attended to by your server.  Keeping that in mind will make everyone happy.  That said, it's cool to chat with the sushi chefs and, if you'd like, buy them a beer (this tends to go over well).  

2. The clean plate club rules apply.
Sushi is a commodity.  Raw fish is special and (like all food) shouldn't be wasted.  That said, it is entirely appropriate and expected to order sushi in phases.  Maybe you want to start with a few of your favorites -- tuna, salmon, and yellowtail.  After enjoying them, maybe you'd like to try a fun roll or a kind of sushi you haven't tried before.  Take your time, relax, and order in waves.  That's totally cool, prevents waste, and is a great part of the experience!

3.  Eat first, season second.
Listen.  I know that 99% of the time, I want some wasabi-infused soy sauce with my sushi.  But I also learned that it's impolite to start blotting your sushi into big vats of soy sauce before tasting them.  Why?  Because the sushi chef usually uses what they consider an appropriate amount of wasabi between the piece of fish and the roll of rice.  When someone starts globbing wasabi onto their food before tasting it, it's a teensy bit gauche.  For the sake of comparison, it would be like going to La Bernadin and making a big show of salting your food before you taste it.  Not so much.

(photo credit)  I heart you, Eric.

4. Using your hands is okay for sushi rolls and nigiri.  
Oh, Proper Paige, what is nigiri?  What is this entry about?  Are you turning Japanese? (I think you're turning Japanese; I really think so.)

Nigiri is what most people think of as sushi.  It is a piece of fish on top of a rolled piece of rice.  Sashimi is raw fish, usually served atop of shredded cabbage.  Sushi rolls are rolled creations, sliced into bite-sized pieces.  It is considered fine to use your hands to eat sushi rolls and nigiri.  You should use chopsticks with sashimi.

This is (tuna) sashimi:

This is tuna nigiri:

This is a sushi roll with tuna in it:

6. Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto!
As with anything, it's nice to say thank you.

And domo arigato to you, dear reader,
Proper Paige

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Tipping Point: Cabs

Life as a working mom in Austin, Texas does not involve a lot of cabs.  I drive everywhere, park easily, and don't go out drinking enough to require a cab home very often.  Que sera, sera.  This is, in fact, a good thing.
Yes, I actually do drive across this regularly.

However, I've lived in San Francisco, DC, and Baltimore, and frequented New York, Boston, London, and many other cities where cabs are a must.  I know how to hail a cab.  I've stolen cabs from people (more on that later; sometimes you have to).  And I know how to tip.

How much do you tip a cab driver?  Isn't this an easy question?

Maybe it is.  But it has more nuances than you might think.

Photo credit

For example:  Let's say that DC has an antiquated zone system for determining fares. (It used to.  Shudder.)  Let's say that you need to go five blocks in a suit and heels, in a hurry.  Five blocks, and the cabbie tells you that the fare is $7.80.  You know this to be frustrating, but true.  I say $10, no change seals the deal.  If the cab reeked of garlic and the cabbie's recent lunch, $9 is fine by me.  Enh, it's almost 20% and the zone system is (was) stupid.

Photo credit
Another example:  You're in New York and running late to get to the airport.  [Fifth Avenue/The Guggenheim/insert Manhattan delight here] sucked you in.  You pray that all the movies you've seen are accurate as you hop into a cab and tell the driver to take you to La Guardia, and step on it.  The driver then defies all laws of physics, traffic, and gravity to get you there with astounding speed.  He says the fare is $27, plus $5 for the bridge toll.  You are pretty sure this is right, for a grand total of $32.  Honestly, I'd probably give him $45.

What?  That's a $13 tip!  Yup.  I don't have to spend the day going stand-by at La Guardia.  Money well-spent.

Photo credit
One more:  You're in New Orleans.  You have what I like to call Pat O'Brien's revenge.  (I just made that up, but actually think I'm pretty funny right now.)  As in, you drank a couple of Hurricanes the night before and feel B-A-D.  You get a cab from the taxi queue at your French Quarter hotel, hug your latte, and ask to be taken to the airport.

The ride that ensues is less like travel and more like a horror movie.  The driver keeps confusing the accelerator and brake, causing you (in your delicate state) to hurtle around the backseat like forgotten groceries.  He's slurping a suspiciously red soda (see note about Hurricanes) as he drives, while letting his styrofoam container of chicken sit, unattended, while stinking up the decrepit minivan that might be your death trap.  You start thinking you might puke.  You wonder how many other people have puked in this cab.  You can no longer stop thinking about puke.  While you fight this vicious thought loop, you manage to arrive at the airport in one piece.

Fare = Flat rate of $28.  He's getting $28.  I will even hand him $30 and wait for the change.  Unless I need to run to the bathroom, in which case, he gets $30.

The lesson?  One Hurricane is always enough.

The other lesson?
Tip your cab driver based on the service provided.  Take into account "rounding up", good service, catching your flight, and other variables.  If you feared for your life or the life of another outside of the vehicle, it is okay to not tip at all. 

Travel safely (and properly), friends.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Tipping Point: Bellmen

A dear (and proper) friend of mine recently enjoyed a whirlwind getaway to Boston.  (Jealous.)  While there, she and her family stayed at the Ritz-Carlton.  (Super jealous.)  Via text message, she and I discussed the proper tipping etiquette for her four star hotel experience.  It was a good question, and a good reminder that revisiting the basics of etiquette from time to time is a good idea.

That said, let's hone in on one critical player in a hotel experience:  the bellman.  The bellman is the first person to greet you when you arrive.  He mercifully takes your luggage from your car/cab/shuttle/tired hands.  Once you've had a chance to check in, get to your room and take a few deep breaths, he magically arrives with your luggage and places it in the room, per your instructions.

If you're at a particularly lovely lodging, he will also show you around your accommodations.  He'll show you things like the snacks, treats, and mini bar, the thermostat, and the view from the window (if it's good).

If you're at a particularly lovely lodging with impeccable service, he may also recommend a few things to do while you are in town.  He may recommend restaurants, or suavely recommend that you avail yourself of the services of the concierge to arrange your meals and festivities.

Upon his departure, he will ensure everything is to your liking and begin his retreat to the door.  If you have not thought ahead and don't have a carefully folded bill or sequence of bills in your hand, this is when people tend to flail through wallets and purses for their cash, all the while wondering,

"How much am I supposed to tip the bellman?"

Without hesitation, my answer to this question has always been:  $1 per bag as a base.  But once I started to think about it, I realized that it's a teensy bit more nuanced than that.  There are times when you absolutely must tip more.

  • If the bellman has to heave your thousand pound suitcase onto his trolley because you overpacked with vintage bowling balls, add a few dollars. 
  • If you have more shoes (and therefore, more luggage) than Imelda Marcos, then add a few dollars.
  • If you are staying at the Ritz-Carlton, or another super deluxe hotel, add a few dollars.
  • Regardless of how little luggage you have, the bellman's tip should never be less than $3.
  • Round numbers, and dollar bill amounts, are awfully nice (as in $5).

I realize you might be thinking that, given all this, the $1 per bag rule doesn't really work.  One dollar a bag sounds good until you tell me that a couple, each with one suitcase, still has to tip $3?  Well, yes.  That is what I'm saying.  Why?  Because if you are an organized, well-turned out couple with neatly packed suitcases, and you tip $2, you look like freaky misers.

Is it possible to tip too much?  And look overzealous or inexperienced?  Sure.  But a bellman would disagree -- there is no excessive tip, there are only varying degrees of greatness.

I think this is the takeaway:

Start with the $1 per bag rule, but be prepared to round up to $5 and to add dollars, as you see fit.

And remember, having the bellman on your side for the duration of your stay is an awesome idea.  It might miraculously make your car come faster from the valet, your cab be hailed faster, your doors opened with more cheer...the possibilities are endless.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Whatchyoutalkinbout, Willis? The Etiquette of Linguistic Quirks

I'm not really sure I would say this entry is in honor of Gary Coleman, even though his untimely passing is unfortunate.  His catchphrase will live on in the sands of sit-com time...

Rather, today is about linguistic quirks and how to handle them.  I have a friend who is currently being seriously bad-ass in South Africa as part of her master's program.  She's finding the differences between African English (which has a heavy British emphasis and its own twist) and American English to be amusing and slightly frustrating.  In particular, she's not quite sure about how they say "petrol" instead of "gas."  She mentioned this in passing in an email because she's witty that way, but it got me thinking.

People in Texas say things I've never heard before.

Fixing to:  to prepare to do something.  As in, "I'm fixing to leave this party."
Put up:  to put away.  As in, "Let's empty the dishwasher and put everything up."

When I lived in Ireland, people said things I'd never heard before.

Just after:  something that you just did.  As in, "I'm just after talking to her on the phone!"
Do you not?:  instead of "Don't you?"  As in, "I don't like cheesecake."  "Do you not!?  I love it."

People in New Orleans say things I've never heard before.

Lagniappe:  (pronounced LAN-yap)  a little extra.  As in, "Oh, they threw in an extra donut with my order!  It's lagniappe!"

Now, don't get me wrong -- bad grammar drives me insane.  I'm not talking about that.  But I am talking about different manners of speakings, idioms, and turns of phrase that are funny, weird, confusing, or just plan different.  As in, the old petrol/gas debate.  And here's the deal.  I think the take-away (which, by the way, is how they say "to go" in England) is this:

Go with it.  Linguistic quirks are called culture.  Culture is good. 

And hey, so long as you don't pull a Madonna and actually adopt a foreign accent, peppering your speech with different expressions is fun.  And keeps your friends on their toes.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rules of the Bacchanal: Music Festival Etiquette

About half an hour ago, Vampire Weekend rocked out the Austin City Limits music festival. I have a three day pass to attend, but was not there to see them. Oh, the call of duty...

But today's entry is not about me whining, because in a few short hours I will be enjoying The Mars Volta with a tasty beverage in the oxymoronic Austin autumnal weather. Of course, as I watch the clock, I started thinking about the etiquette of music festivals. Of any festival, really. And yes, I do think about these things, which is why I am Proper Paige...

I think there are a few basic ground rules to follow when at a large event with many thousands of people. They will not turn the festival into a cricket match, but they stand to make it a teensy bit more user-friendly. Here goes:

1. If you are a female (or will otherwise need it), take toilet paper with you.

I am starting with the big one because it is just the most important. And yes, I realize that taking your own toilet paper to a festival does not smack of traditional etiquette. That's because it is not. However, it is a really good idea; one that will make you happier. The happier you are, the better the festival. And so it goes.

ACL has a ridiculous number of port-a-potties. At the beginning of each day, they are clean and well-stocked. However, once several thousand people visit said potties, they are neither of those things. I have found by trial and error that taking toilet paper is sheer genius. Also, as the evening wears on and I know that we are close to heading home, I will give other ladies in the loo line a free gift of toilet paper when I have extra. I'm telling you, the random acts of kindess are the best.

2. Do not dawdle in the beer/food/autograph line.

ACL has some of the best festival food I've ever had. (New Orleans Jazz Fest is a close second.) Local restaurants serve everything from fish tacos to barbecue to the must-try crunchy chicken cone. Add in some Shiner Bock or SweetLeaf tea and you're set.

However, hungry festival-goers have a tendency to be the hungriest, least decisive people I've ever seen. Maybe they've had too much beer; maybe they waited an extra hour to eat to catch a specific show -- who knows? But the result is that people stand around, mouths hanging open, trying to decide what to eat, when other, more decisive hungry people try to navigate around them.

My advice for this one is -- decide quickly. Hey, the beauty of a festival is that you can eat a lot. We all do it -- the strict hours for lunch and dinner totally do not apply. You're not going to starve, and you can eat again. That said, relax, choose, and proceed. The people behind you will thank you for it.

3. Wear the right shoes.

This is also in the toilet paper category -- it is not etiquette, per se, but will make you a much happier person at the festival. Which, in turn, adds more positive energy to the environment, and makes for a happier world.

There is no one "right shoe" for any festival like this. Most people will have on flip flops, because they are taking over the world. (I am great with this, by the way.) I will probably wear my Chacos because if I am going to be festival-ing for days on end, I will probably be more comfortable that way. Other people swear by their Crocs (save us all from plastic shoes), sneakers, or Birkenstocks.

The bottom line with shoes is that you need to wear whatever you'll be comfortable in. And if any of you have a date tonight, and your date mentioned "stopping by the festival," don't wear the heels. It may be a date, but it's also an outdoor festival, in a park, in the dirt. Your date, and Beck, will forgive you.

4. Don't hog the misters.

Let's face it: It may be fall on the calendar, but it's still summer in Austin. It's going to be sunny and in the 90's all weekend, and perhaps even into next month. As a native of the East Coast, I used to think that summer in Texas was, quite literally, hell on earth. As I live here longer, I have gotten used to it, despite myself. In fact, the other day, I referred to 90 degree weather as "nice."

ACL weather, though, has a tendency to not be so nice. Last year was quite hot. According to people who go every year, it wasn't as hot as it has been in years past, but it was hot enough to make me woozy. Boy, was that fun...

Anyway, the festival is set up, wisely, with misting stations where giant fans blow a cold water mist on you. They are large enough to accommodate a lot of people, and the effect is magical. You can go from "hangry" (so hot that you're angry) (can also be used to refer to being so hungry that you're angry) to relaxed in about ten seconds. It is a life saver.

That said, you know who you are. To you mist hogs out there, don't do it. Cool yourself and move on.

5. Play nicely.

Even though your favoritebandinthewholeworld is playing this year, don't forget to be conscious of those around you. Don't scream into your cell phone to try and make your friend hear you so she can get you a beer while you stake out a spot. Don't put your chairs in the "no chair zone." Don't cut in line. If you knock into someone, step on a foot, or almost run over a child, apologize. These are the basics, and when you get 75,000 people in a park with 8 stages and 130 bands, it makes a surprisingly big difference when we all use them.

Um, that said, it's almost time for me to head to the park. I'll make sure to take my own advice, while keeping an eye out for etiquette transgressions on which to report. If I am not too distracted by the prospect of seeing:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

On The Go: Exploring the City of Brotherly Love...and Cheese Whiz

My last entry has prompted some hard-core nostalgia for one of my favorite cities in the entire world: Philadelphia. So, in a continuation of the "on the go" series, here are some specific etiquette and travel nuggets that my traveling friends might want to tuck away when they visit.

1. See the crack. Love the crack.

In the Liberty Bell, silly. Though it might seem anticlimactic to go see a giant bell with a crack in it, I highly recommend it. The Liberty Bell is in a new-ish visitors center which provides a lot of good history about our founding forefathers. And though you used to be able to touch the bell (shocking!) you no longer can (makes sense). However, you can get pretty close. It's like the Mona Lisa. You've seen the picture a million times, but there is something very special about seeing it live and in person. I also highly recommend visiting Independence Hall.
Check it out here:

(Speaking of Philadelphia and crack, I also highly recommend the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.)

2. Head South -- to South Street, that is.

South Street used to be named Cedar Street, and it used to be the southernmost city boundary for Philadelphia. It is no longer either of those things. South Street also used to be the live music hub of the city and home to the famous punk/biker store, called Zipperhead. (Zipperhead is mentioned in the song "Punk Rock Girl," by the Dead Milkmen.) It is no longer either of these things. (However, South Street will always be the famed locale featured in the timeless Boyz II Men video for "MotownPhilly." )

South Street is still cool, though, and remains one of my favorite places to go when in town. It features over 300 bars, restaurants and stores. You can get a cheesesteak, a tatoo, and an original piece of local artwork in the same experience. What's not to love?

Check it out for yourself:

3. Repeat after me: I am an Eagles fan. I am a Phillies fan. I am a Sixers fan. I am a Flyers fan.

As an Austinite, I am slowly but surely being indoctrintated into being a University of Texas Longhorns fan. It is very serious business down here -- as UT excels at numerous NCAA sports. Football, anyone?

I have to say, though, that Philly sports fans give Texans a run for their money. You don't have to become an Eagles or a Phillies fan before you get on the plane/train to visit this fair city. You don't have to don the jerseys to be accepted. However, a little working knowledge of the local teams can take you a long way. Philadelphians are serious about their sports.

Suggestion: I don't know anything about football. Seriously. So I tend to play off Eagles comments when I am in Philly. But, I am a basketball fan, so I can use one sport to deflect another. As in: "I don't know about the Eagles this season, but how about those Sixers?" I think this is street smart and perfectly proper. FYI, Allen Iverson plays for the Denver Nuggets now. If you didn't know that, I wouldn't suggest bringing him up in a casual conversation.

4. Repeat after me: Whiz wit.

Admittedly, I am saving the best, and most etiquette-y, for next to last. This cryptic phrase "wiz wit" is your key to the best thing about Philly -- a cheesesteak from Pat's.

Let me be clear here -- there are a million places to get a cheesesteak in Philly. A lot of them are really good. A lot of them are bad. It's like getting a crab cake in Maryland or barbecue in Texas. It's not hard to find, but it's better to go to the places that make people tear up to talk about.

That said, there are two competing businesses in the "make people tear up" category for cheesesteaks: Pat's and Geno's. As luck, or Hatfield and McCoy caliber rivalries go, these businesses happen to be denizens of the same, neighborhood, Passyunk. (Prounounced PASS-uh-yunk.) There are people who declare that the heyday of Pat's and Geno's has passed, and that other local restaurants have far surpassed them. I don't know about that. But I do know about Pat's and Geno's...

I have a strange analogy -- go with it here. If making a good cheesesteak is like playing a piano, then Pat's is Beethoven and Geno's is Liberace. Both have their place in the world, but one is really worlds better than the other. Geno's is decked out in neon. Pat's keeps it simple. Geno's is overplayed. Pat's just keeps doing it right, year after year, steak after steak. So, for all of your Philly conneisseurs out there, I am throwing the gauntlet. I pick Pat's.

But what is this whiz wit stuff, you ask? This, my dear readers, is the key to getting the magical cheesesteak from Pat's. This is assuming that you accept that fact that "Whiz" stands for Cheez Whiz, which is what they use on the steaks. I know, that is shocking, but it's also runny, cheesy, and delicious. Trust me, you want this. That is assuming that you want sauteed onions on your cheesesteak. "Wit" translates to "with onions." Trust me, you want this, too.

The line at Pat's is serious business. They are open 24 hours a day and are busy much of the time. During lunch, they are feeding local workers who are on the clock and need speedy service. At 2 am, they are feeding people who have stumbled out of the bars and need grease. At mealtimes, they are dealing with plain old hungry people who need food.

To that end, you do not want to dilly dally in the line at Pat's. This is not the time to ask, "what's good here?" or debate the various social attributes and drawbacks of onions and subsequent breath mints. This is not the time to worry about fat grams or calories.

This is what you do at Pat's: You get to the window. You order. You pay. You step aside. You are handed steak. You step away. Variances from this routine have a ripple effect on the hungry hoardes behind you and a distinctly unsettling effect on the Pat's employees, which is bad.

This is not rising to the level of "No soup for you!", but it's in the same ballpark. (Occupied by which team? Repeat after me: I am a Phillies fan.) So, when you get to the window at Pat's after seven Yuengling lagers on South Street, smile, say "Whiz Wit," and step aside.

See for yourself: Oh, and they ship. You can thank me later.

5. Go ahead and be Rocky. You know you want to.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a great destination. It has a world class collection and is housed in a gorgeous building. It is also home to one of cinema's finest moments, from the movie Rocky.

Yep, these are the famous steps that Rocky trained on. And no, you're not crazy for wanting to run to the top of them, dance like a fool, and shout "Adrienne" at the top of your lungs. Is this proper? Enh. Is this advisable at a world class art museum? Not so much. Is it a good idea anyway because you only live once? You betcha.

Friday, June 6, 2008

On the Go: Etiquette of the DC Metro

I've been thinking a lot lately about my old stomping grounds, our nation's capitol, Washington DC. As a shout out to my dear District friends, this one's for you.

DC is a frantic city, full of activity, traffic, energy, and general bustle. To know that bustle is to love it. To commute in it is, well, to commute in it. Many denizens of the greater DC area take the Metro to work each morning. The Beltway is a nightmare; gas is expensive, and the Metro is cheap. And you can read the Post while riding it. If you ride the orange line in from Vienna, you might even get the crossword done.

But let's face it -- any time you are moving thousands of people around, there are bound to be some wrinkles. Enter, Metro Etiquette.

I've read etiquette books which go into detail about how to politely ride the subway. And while I suppose those tips are useful, they focus on things like not elbowing your neighbor in the kidney. And while I am not advocating for elbows in the kidney, I do think that the etiquette of the DC Metro is a little more specific and perhaps a bit more refined.

First, you have to contend with the actual process of getting underground. This sounds easy, but that is not alway the case. There are a couple of Metro stations, in particular, where you think you might just keep riding the escalator and emerge in China. I seem to recall that Farragut North is one of them. And Rockville. Maybe they're all like that, now that I think about it. Anyway, I am not a squeamish girl. I am not afraid of heights. But when I get off the first escalator to go to the second one, to travel deep to the center of the earth, I tend to get a little dizzy. I have a tendency, when I have one of these freaky dizzy spells, to go to the right and hang onto the rail for dear life. That way, I have a chance of getting to the platform in one, somewhat respectable, piece. This also gives the frazzled bureaucrats plenty of room to run down the escalator without hip-checking me.

First rule of the DC metro: The escalator passing lane is on the left.

Second, rush hour is a big deal in every city -- but there is something about rush hour in DC that makes it stand out in my memory. There is a palpable urgency in the air as everyone heads to work. Which makes sense if you think about it. On one venerable Metro car, you may have Scalia's law clerk, Condoleeza's executive assistant, a couple of four star generals, and the legal staff of the ACLU. They are in a hurry for good reason; they truly have important things to do. But regardless, this adds to the hustle and bustle that I mentioned earlier, and leads to a teensy weensy sense of entitlement when people are jockeying for a seat on the train. So, when you get on the train, it may be a little like a game of Hungry Hippos with the masses.

But before you get on the train, make sure to abide by the second rule of the DC Metro: Let the people off the train before getting on.
The third rule of the DC Metro is one that permeates to other aspects of life in this great city. And I say this with a unique blend of judgment and nostalgia, because though I miss parts of living in DC, I don't miss all of it. And this is one thing that I accept, but don't miss. This is the bedrock rule of Not Talking to Strangers. As I said, this is not just a rule for the Metro. This is a rule for life. And I'm no anthropologist, so I won't get into my theory about why this is the case in DC; suffice it to say that it is. Unless you are conducting a transaction or your eyeball just fell out, you're not talking to people that you don't know in DC. Unless you're a politician. So, the way this pans out on the Metro is a sort of plausible deniability that anyone else is actually on the same train you are. What? No, I never even noticed that there were 67 other people on the train. What? Scalia's law clerk and several four star generals? I had no idea.
Third rule of the DC Metro: Small talk is prohibited.