10 Things You Didn't Know About DC

Posted on Saturday, Dec 17, 2016

So turns out, interning can sometimes be more than fetching coffee and filing papers! Throughout my internship I have learned loads about how government agencies are actually run, what it takes to establish sustainable foreign aid, and that there are actually some really cool things our government does that most people don’t ever get to hear about.
It is also extremely humbling just to live in a city and go to work everyday with people who are eons more intelligent and experienced than I am. These are people who have worked incredibly hard (and still do)  to get where they are and do the things they believe in. I almost enjoy being the little tadpole inside of this huge city, because there is just so much to learn from every single person that I meet. No one in D.C. doesn’t have an interesting job or some piece of valuable wisdom they can pass down to you, and it’s almost overwhelming to me to be the one getting to experience it all.
Aside from getting to do what I love while working for the Peace Corps, some of my most favorite things about this city come from its little (and often-times unnoticed) quirks. So here are some fun observation about our nation’s capitol from a (Texan) intern!
1. There is no J street.
There’s an I street, and a K street, but no J street! Why? Because the designer of the city, Pierre L’Enfant had a grudge against Chief Justice John Jay, so he left out J street.
2. There is a metro stop named after Pierre L’Enfant.
Even though he was technically fired by the government for not wanting to listen to the commissioners of the city…typical Frenchman. However, most of his architectural plans were followed in the end.
3. Everyone smokes
Once you notice it, you can't stop! You would think in a city where some of the most intelligent people in the world live and work, they would know better. Guess not? Walking down the streets makes you very aware of second hand smoke. It’s real, and it’s gross!
4. They don’t know about kolaches!
I am not kidding. This is not a joke. I was actually asked by several of my coworkers what a kolache was. My mind was blown. They also don’t know about Texas toast. But, they do have Chick Fil A’s:)
5. The #1 pet peeve of everyone in DC is when people stand on the left side of the escalator.
The right side of the escalator is for standing, and the left side is for walking. If you break this rule and stand on the left side of the escalator you will get yelled at and people will not be very happy with you. It’s honestly the most frustrating thing when you are trying to catch a train and someone is blocking you from running down the escalator. Just don’t do it.
6. Residents of the District itself do not have voting rights in federal elections.
America may have won its freedom in 1776 by rallying behind the phrase “no taxation without representation,” but independence did not get rid of this in our grand country. Territories of the US can vote in their local elections, but do not get a say when it comes to all things federal. This means the federal government can tax them all they want and they can’t do anything about it. Since the District is technically a territory of the US and not a state or a city within a state…this applies to them too. Just another reason why most people who work in DC don’t actually live in DC.
7. Ford’s Theater is still a fully functioning theatre!
Not sure if this is cool or creepy or both. Nonetheless, if you ever plan a trip to DC you can look into going to a show!
8. The Capitol building has no address.
It truly is the center of our country as it sits in the very middle of DC. It’s coordinates are even listed as (0,0).
9. Everyone has “commuter shoes”
Because walking to and from the metro to work in heels (or the fancy shoes guys wear) is not something anyone really wants to do. So during rush hour in DC you will see a bunch of people walking around in business professional clothes with anything from tennis shoes to flip flops.
10. People go out to eat with their dogs.
Unlike Texas, DC actually has pretty decent weather which means that when people go out to eat sitting outside doesn’t involve suffering in the heat and is really enjoyable. So it’s not uncommon to see people sitting outside restaurants eating with their dogs on the ground next to them or occasionally in their laps.
In conclusion, getting to both live and work in this city has been an amazing experience that I would recommend to most anyone, especially someone interested in policy or government! You will not find another place filled with more passion and a strong work ethic. While the quirks do make it fun, the purpose makes it meaningful.

Beth Woods
Peace Corps