Thankful, Newseum, city dweller, no more cars ever again

I’ve concluded that public transportation has ruined me. I’m too afraid to get in a car, and when I do step into one of these contraptions, I suffer immense panic, especially when I’m not the driver.

This dawned on me over the weekend when my mom flew in from California. We stayed at a hotel in the suburbs, and little did I know, the horribly constructed streets would turn me into a nervous wreck and even send me to tears.

All was fine on Friday evening, when we ate at The Melting Pot, which my college roommates and I frequented during senior year of college. I enjoyed my cheese and chocolate fondue, but when it came time to leave, my friend Jenna accidentally navigated us onto the opposite side of the road, meaning we were driving towards oncoming traffic and could have faced deadly head-on collisions.

Freeway entrances are confusing in the northern Virginia area, so I don’t blame her. I was, however, a complete mess when I realized we’d merged onto the highway on the wrong side of the road. I never want to see headlights moving towards me again, and quite frankly, a part of me wants to rule out cars forever.

Nevertheless, as soon as I noticed we were in serious danger, I shouted for Jenna to swerve into the highway divider. She didn’t exhibit a sense of urgency, probably for the better, as nervous people tend to exacerbate bad scenarios and ultimately cause more problems. Like a sane person, she honked her horn, promptly pulled over, and turned around.

Though we dodged a quite possibly fatal situation, my hands continued to shake and heart continued to pound for twenty minutes. I vowed that night to avoid cars at all costs, only to get into our rented car the following day and flip out.

At one point, my mom’s purse flung itself onto the gear change and shifted our mode from Drive to Neutral. Thank God we weren’t on the freeway, that’s for sure. There were several other nerve-wracking incidents that led me to make multiple promises not to go near cars again.

The more I use public transportation, the less safe I feel in a car. I don’t trust other drivers, nor do I enjoy taxi’s. This morning I had no other choice but to take a cab to work, and I ended up feeling extremely disrespected by the driver, who purposely took the longest route possible to get me to my destination.

When I called him out on it and said I knew he was merely trying to over charge me, he said, “No, we just ask for more money anyway because we’re the fastest company in the northern Virginia area.”

I know for a fact he charged $20 more than necessary. It’s not a small number, and that’s not simply ripping me off by a few bucks. Quite frankly, that’s being a total asshole.

I normally don’t have the energy nor time to file a complaint about this sort of thing, but as you can imagine, I was livid and made several calls to HR this morning. Nevertheless, I eventually got tired of being forwarded on to multiple different representatives, so I surrendered and went on with my day. Plus, burning bridges is never wise. Who knows when I’ll need a taxi again?

Even so, I’ve either become a big baby or a city dweller. I’m certainly guilty of both. Every day, I feel this city isn’t grand enough for me, but it does have a pretty nifty metro system, which I would opt for over a cab in a heartbeat. My father was a New York City cab driver during his early twenties, so I think I inherited his controlling-driver trait.

Cars and streets just freak me out now, but perhaps this is only a problem in the D.C. area, where the roads were initially structured for cattle. Take a look at the confusing set of traffic lights:

The Road to Nowhere!

Aside from all that, the weekend was such a nice break from reality. My mom and I visited the Newseum, a museum dedicated solely to journalism. I was moved to tears by several exhibits, some of which include the 9/11 tribute floor, the Hurricane Katrina segment, and the photojournalism section.

If you can believe it, museum attendees prefer print journalism to online media:

Of everything I saw at the Newseum, the story about the photo below is rather dark and unsettling:

Photojournalist Kevin Carter won the Pulitzer Prize for this snapshot, which stirred up ample controversy in the early 90’s and likely contributed to his suicide.

Carter took a picture of this starving Sudanese child, who is clearly under the watch of a murderous vulture. Upon taking the photograph, Carter shooed the vulture away, but many critics say he was wrong not to pick up the poor little girl. Instructed not to touch the kids to maintain good health, Carter stayed away from her, but killed himself in the aftermath of being compared to a preying vulture himself.

The Newseum makes me proud to work in the journalism field, and it always inspires me to take more risks. I can’t possibly call myself an important journalist when so many in the field have died for their work. Just think of Daniel Pearl or even CBS News chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan who was sexually assaulted during her Egypt reporting endeavors. They’re heroes and I hope to learn more from their contributions.

I got some really good news today, of which I’ll share soon enough. All I can say is this:  I’ve never been more thankful in my life for anything. I’m lucky.

But earlier today, I wasn’t all that fortunate. On my way home, some random old man came up and asked, “Excuse me, where can I find information on American Airline ticketing?”

I told him to repeat the question three times, but still struggled to make sense of his incoherent question, so I eventually just walked away. Where do I find such unusual people, and why do they always seem to think I’m the go-to person for their requests? I suppose I’m approachable, or just a magnet for crazies, but that’s nothing new.

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