I had a real D.C. moment on the drive home today, heading east out of D.C. on Route 50.
You don't understand how Type A D.C. people are until you live here, and it doesn't hit home until you have one of these real Gen-you-Wine D.C. moments. Seriously, D.C. people are wayyy more Type A than New Yorkers. Just lunatics.
So it's rush hour, on a Wednesday, and traffic is a little slow as I cross the Bladensburg road and head out of town on 50. Just after the 50 / Balt0-Wash Parkway split, the traffic on 50 slows just a touch and all of a sudden everybody is zippering.
"Damn, it's foggy," I thought.
Then I noticed a pillar of flames shooting at least 35 feet into the air. And it wasn't fog but dense, thick black smoke.
I zippered into the right lane and whizzed right on by the source of the impromptu Olympic Flame, a late model car, possibly a mid-90's Toyota Corolla. It looked like there had been a multi-car pileup; a number of dinged up looking sport utes and sedans were pulled up on the left side of the road, and a police SUV. The cop hadn't bothered to set a flare or road triangle; I guess the flames shooting into the sky were warning enough that there were flames shooting into the sky just ahead on the road. He was just hanging out on the roadside, talking to the drivers. The owner of the car, I think, was standing there wistfully watching his hoopty do a fair to middling imitation of a Roman candle.
The point was, this didn't cause any more than the usual traffic. We just zippered into the right lane and zipped on by. I don't think anybody was actually even looking at the wreck. I don't think anybody was concerned about the blast potential.
No, dammit... we were driving home and nothing, I repeat *nothing* was going to slow us down.
People weren't even rubbernecking.
It was the damnedest thing I think I've ever seen on the road. I guess people were just more interested in getting home than in having a gander at this enormous, possibly-about-to-explode-any-minute torch in the adjacent lane. In Germany, traffic would have been stopped in both lanes until that mess was cleared. In England, they'd have been rubbernecking it to death. In LA, there would have been a huge traffic jam with people honking at each other.
In D.C. . . we kept on rollin' like the dogies in "Rawhide."
Now I know how it feels to be in a stampede.