GPS Won’t Help

If there’s one particular area of the country I can’t stand to drive through, yet find myself in the majority of my work week, it’s the District of Columbia and all surrounding parts. Most of I-495 is relatively easy to navigate as are other major highways. But the problem isn’t on the highway, it’s what happens when you get off. Driving through DC is hectic and frustrating in the least. There’s too many one-ways and even less straightaways. The roundabouts are ridiculous and have the tiniest street signs possible. Pretty sure your GPS isn’t going to tell you to turn 4 feet between exits. And the exits wouldn’t be so terrible if there weren’t exits off of exits. I’m serious. There are unmarked exits or extra roadways all over the place. It’s nasty.

If you can see this from the road, you’re fucked.

What’s worse than DC? A little area called Arlington. Only this little area is not as small as one might think when looking at a map. Ever seen cities that have north or south as part of the name? It’s because some developer or real estate agency wants to extend the territory by an extra couple miles to make the people living near the ghetto think they are in a nicer area. I totally get that, but when I’m driving and I want to particular area it can’t just suddenly become a different one. That happens all the time in Arlington. In fact, streets become different ones in a blink of an eye or the slight turn at a stop light that gives no option of going straight.

Do your eyes have trouble seeing things (much less things from distances)? Well, you won’t like driving in DC or Arlington (and really it’s Virginia and anywhere south of there in the United States). In signs in Maryland and north of us, there are signs a couple hundred yards ahead that tell you when a new street is coming up and what that street is called. Apparently we are supposed to intrinsically know when and where streets are based off of intuition. That’s a little much for me. And maybe you thought that there were only streets in big cities that continued on for 10 or 20 miles, right? And I mean streets, not routes. Yes, in Arlington there are streets that continue on for ridiculous lengths.

But let’s get back to DC. Based on conventional wisdom, you’d assume that if streets were going to be numbered and lettered that they would be corresponding and make actual fucking sense. Nope. That would be too easy. Instead, numbers and letters are so wacked out I have no idea where I’m going whenever I’m around. A few years ago I left a friend’s house around K street deep in the city to find myself in Georgetown and then eventually in Virginia. And while 495 is easy to understand, every other route is confusing because to get through DC without actually driving directly by the god damn mall and White House you have to drive north or south of the city and then around. To get around DC, sometimes you have to west to go east. Yeah, that didn’t make sense, right? But that’s what you have to do. Stupid. So much like getting through New York City, if you can avoid driving altogether in DC then do yourself a favor and get in a cab!

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