Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Moral grease.

Disclaimer 1: I am NOT politically savvy by most standards. I am NOT in favor of any particular party. I am NOT in-the-know when it comes to politics. I am NOT up-to-speed with political bents or trends. I do NOT read political publications. I do NOT watch any of the myriad political shows on Washington DC. I'm not smart when it comes to politics, and I don't care to be. So, if you don't like what I'm about to say, find someone who gives a sh*t, m'kay?

Disclaimer 2: This entry is NOT inclusive of my few D.C. friends. AT ALL. It's sad to say I have so few friends in this city; If you are my friend and you live in D.C., my apologies.

Ok. Now...

As I was on the treadmill tonight, I caught the nauseatingly grandiose pomp and circumstance of the beginning of the state of the union speech on tv. The announcements. The fanfare. The fraudulent smiles and hand-shaking between peoples clawing each other's eyes out just weeks ago on the campaign trail. The little clusters of like-opined 'important people.'

And I felt, well...I guess I can't say it any better than saying I felt morally greasy.

I felt like the values my parents worked so hard to instill in us kids were useless here. I felt like this town pivots on manipulation, deceit, and self-service. I felt like the capital of my country is one of the worst examples I've ever experienced of what my country is actually about; if I were to escort a foreigner around my country (and I have, to a small extent. Hi, Aldo,) would I choose to take them to Washington?

Unfortunately, yes, I would. Begrudgingly, I would. I have to concede D.C. has some wonderful restaurants, top-quality museums, and gorgeous neighborhoods. I have to concede these are worth experiencing, and I would have to show my guest these sights for them to get the full monty of our background (seeing the actual Constitution is chilling, I say,) but I would do everything in my power to prevent them from talking to too many people or looking in too many shadows. It's in those shadows the fetid stench of this city lies.

I first noticed it when I began dating my (now) wife. She would take me around to quaint happy hours and introduce me to co-workers, friends, and the populace of her government career. With almost no exception, everyone's first question was, "so, what do you do?" They weren't asking out of curiosity or to make conversation; they were asking as part of an evaluation of my worth to them. I know this because, usually, the smile faded and the conversation ended quickly when I told them I managed a coffee shop. Now that I manage a bank, the interest level is at least maintained long enough to answer whether or not I can provide financial advice. Then, the glazed eyes and quick glances at the watch. Sickening.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the almost suffocating sense of self-worth and entitlement this city has. All chiefs, no indians. Or, all butt and no toilet paper, ya know? Have you ever gone to a function where everyone walked around like the rod up thier ass had a rod up its ass? Well, multiply that by hundreds of thousands. I actually had someone yell at me (and I mean YELL) because I wouldn't allow him to perform changes on an account he forged for his mother AND son. He forged the signatures. Their names. His signatures on all three accounts (including his.) And, he's a fucking lawyer. And, he knew what he was doing was wrong. I'm the bad guy, I guess.

D.C. is a classless hack of a burg.

Morally greasy, I is.



The Multicultural Spitfire said...

"With almost no exception, everyone's first question was, "so, what do you do?" They weren't asking out of curiosity or to make conversation; they were asking as part of an evaluation of my worth to them."

In D.C., upon meeting someone, one of the first questions is indeed "What do you do?" I myself try to put that question off as long as I can, because I do think it is a little rude, precisely because it is THE D.C. question.

However, I do NOT think that people who asked you that question were sizing up your worth to them. I think most people want to know because it may help them relate to you - the answer often signals political bent in a town way more divided by party than even when I started out here in '93.

As a wonky kind of person, a person's response will help me continue in conversation with them, partly because I don't always know how to talk about anything else. Sure, that says I need to get out [of the Beltway, and in general] more, or start following sports.

Sometimes a person's answer will tell me what I think they are "worth" - according to my own value system. If I met someone who worked for, say, the American Family Association [www.afa.net] - then no, that person is not "worth" a whit to me.

I'd ask you to consider that some D.C. types are just socially awkward (Dad). But you're right - others are just assholes.

Alyson said...

I also try not to ask that question right away, but I'm always pleased to meet people that don't do anything remotely close to what I do. Hell, I'm not even sure what I do.

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