Posted by: Gram | October 31, 2010

One Last “Vacation”

Yes, technically this blog shouldn’t exist, but technically, I’m still unemployed.  Homeless, no, but meh, still a vagrant.

Plus, I’ve still had some annual leave to take, and so, instead of spending it in a hotel, I spent it in a studio apartment¹ in Arlington, Virginia.  Complete with really, really bad TV that makes you want to smash your head into a brick wall whenever the adverts come on.  Why seeing the same $1 menu at Arby’s² advert in one hour will persuade me more than seeing it 2 times in a hour, I can’t phantom.  Especially since I never even saw an Arby’s Restaurant.

Not even Ninjas are cool in American adverts...

Still, the resounding memories are of:

  • catching up with an ol’ friend (nice) over lots of nice beers (nicer)
  • damn friendly people (nice) who all seemed to like my jacket (also nice)
  • an expensive and infrequent metro (bad)
  • marble columns (nice, but samey)
  • seeing UNESCO Heritage Site #78 (alright, but the Philly Cheesesteak will have significantly shortened my life)
  • queueing (infuriating)

The relentless mind numbing queueing, all of which have an apologetic security guard at the end of it, not liking that his job has been downgraded to rooting through handbags for nuclear bombs, or a guy checking if you were old enough to drink³.

Hell, there was more security to see the Declaration of Independence⁴ than there was at the airport.  They weren’t apologetic there either, and gave me a stern telling off for forgetting about my watch and wearing button up jeans.

Even more surprising than mad hysterical paranoia, was an actually genuinely surprising level of ignorance.  Fair enough, the general public don’t know much, they don’t here either, but I’d hope a guide or a museum should know their specialist subject.  Ignorance is one thing.  Spreading ignorance is quite another.  Notable highlights include:

  • an inability to define the word “Liberty”, though there was plenty of get-out-clauses about why only land owning middle class white folk had the vote in the olden days
  • thinking Germany tried to invade the US in WWII, and most importantly, force everyone to forget English
  • flat out stating that *I* was in charge of this United States of America⁵
  • stating the Wright Brothers “invented” the aeroplane, then, correctly stating it was John Stringfellow in another exhibition
  • mixing up St James Park with St Pauls Cathedral
  • not knowing in the 1700 of history between the Roman Empire and the United States of America, there were plenty of Republics⁶
  • stating Ronald Reagan brought down the Berlin Wall, possibly by headbutting it
  • dissing the 27th and best Presdient of the United States William Howard Taft
  • not mentioning the Bakerloo line went to the District of Columbia

Annoyingly, it would have only cost £1.80 to get home on my Oyster Card. I'd brought it along to.

And of course, the massive one:

  • Why was it okay, even noble, for a bunch of guerilla fighters to defy the greatest power of the age telling it how to live their life, but not now?

Naturally, I kept my mouth shut on the last one.

Though there were pockets of resistance to this tide of clichéd laziness.  Naturally though, they were limited to within the walls of the excellent Smithsonian Museums⁷.  I almost fainted as I was wearing one of my favourite t-shirts, a man in the Museum of the American Indian walked past and stated:

“Alriiiiiight!  Dangermouse!”

I liked that guy 🙂


¹ The very type of apartment I refused to actually pay rent for.  After staying in this one, I may have been too hasty…


² I want very bad things to happen to the “Dad” in the advert

³ I did mention I’m foreign and as such been allowed to drink for 10 years.  That didn’t seem to matter.  More worrying was one lady mistaking my Chinese Tourist Visa for my birth date.  Worryingly, she accepted my age of 8 months…

⁴ See, not read.  You can’t read it, it’s far to faint, and I’ve got a sneaky feeling the British couldn’t either.

⁵ Careful, that would be a very bad move.  Though my policy of forced proper-hat-wearing would reinvigorate the economy.

⁶ Seriously, how do you not know about the republic of Ragusa?

⁷ And rather excellently glossed over, but not covered up, that he was British


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