Wednesday, January 30, 2013

To Live or Not to Live in the District: No Question

I read with amusement a post on Slate which noted that the Presidential motorcade now carries the District of Columbia’s “Taxation Without Representation” license plates. For those who aren’t familiar with the issue, because the District of Columbia is not a state, it has no voting representatives in Congress, and thus no say in much of the policy making that goes on within its very own borders.

Or as I like to call it, Reason no. 457 that I live in Alexandria, and not the District.

For those of you aren’t familiar with the area, Alexandria is one of the cities in Virginia that, along with others in Maryland, make up the larger DC metro area. I moved to Alexandria 20 years ago today. Here are some of the things that convinced me that while the District is a nice place to visit, I wouldn’t want to live there:

The burglar-bar effect—When I was planning to move to the area, I started scanning the paper (yes, I am that old) for “roommate wanted” ads. Although my job was located in Arlington, Virginia, I thought it might be cool to live in the District itself. But then I started seeing burglar bars listed as a selling point and I thought, ehh, I know this is an urban area, but maybe somewhere else would make me feel more secure? It’s not as if no one in Alexandria has burglar bars—I have them on my basement windows because the glass is so old and crappy—they’re just not an essential item for most residences.

The “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” factor—Emergency services in the District can sometimes be…unreliable. No answer at 911, slow response, emergency teams responding to medical emergencies but arriving at the wrong place and then just turning around. I’m not disparaging first responders, but these things happen often enough to make me uncomfortable with the system. Alexandria isn’t perfect, but I can say that when I called about a teenage girl who collapsed while partying across the street from my house (around a Reliant K car?!!), the police (followed by an ambulance) arrived as I was hanging up the phone. Now that’s what I call service.

Marion Barry syndrome—Who could forget Marion “the bitch set me up” Barry? Caught on tape while smoking crack, this (still) incredibly popular four-term mayor and current DC council member is the most colorful—and memorable—example of the corruption that has plagued the city’s government for decades.  

Rats. Sooo many rats—Enough said.

I’m just not hip enough—I recently read an article about how super-fun-incredible-cool the District is. The jobs! The sexy singles! According to the article, you can tell which neighborhoods are full of hot young things by looking at the shelves at the local CVS, which are filled—just filled—with Pedialyte (for those epic hangovers) and condoms (for, well, you know). My local CVS is full of vitamins and anti-aging beauty products.

Terminally un-hip or not, I’m happy with my choice. I’ll let you know how the next 20 years goes.

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