Thursday, August 11, 2011

10 Years in Washington (Part One)

10 years ago last week, I moved to the Washington DC area, specifically Fairfax County, Virginia, with my girlfriend. We didn’t exactly have a long-term plan, but I figured that we’d be in Washington for a few years and move somewhere else. After a few years, we got married and bought a place. Earlier this year, we had our first child. We both like our jobs, so even though I’ll always consider myself a Pittsburgher, it looks like we’ve made Washington (well, Fairfax County) our home. This is a bit of a reflection on the past ten years.

(Please disregard the arrow by Kensington; This was the best map I found.)

I didn’t have a job when I moved here, so while I sent my resume and cover letter to dozens of places, I paid the bills through temp jobs. My first position was demonstrating how to play a Harry Potter board game at Springfield Mall. I enjoyed the job, but it only lasted three days. My first long-term temp position was primarily spent doing data entry at an educational organization in Alexandria. That’s where I was for 9/11.

Driving to the office, I heard about the first plane crashing into the first tower while listening to Howard Stern. I arrived in the office when the second plane hit. Getting information online was pointless as any news website was extremely slow at best. We listened to the news via radio since the company didn’t have a television. I remember there being a ton of incorrect information reported that day. There was a report of something going on in Pittsburgh, terrorists on a plane in Cleveland and a bombing at the State Department. All of these turned out to be false, but the Twin Towers falling, a plane hitting the Pentagon and another plane crashing near Shanksville, PA were very real. With no one working and cell phone service non-existent (I didn’t even have a cell phone then), the company let us go home around noon. It was a surreal ride home. I worked only about seven miles from the Pentagon and could smell burnt metal in the air. The roads were packed but extremely quiet as no one honked their horns. It was the exact opposite of how traffic usually flows around here.

Things slowly returned to normal in the DC area until approximately a year later when John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo entered our lives. The Washington sniper attacks terrorized the entire area. Over a three week period, ten people were randomly killed and three others injured in Washington, Maryland and Virginia. The entire region was paralyzed as there truly was no rhyme or reason as to why the victims were shot. I worked two jobs at that time including night and weekend shifts at Blockbuster. Part of my responsibilities at the end of the shift was to clean the store windows from the outside. With no on around late at night at a store located not far from the Beltway, in the back of my mind, I worried about being the next victim. Actually, I was probably more upset that I would be identified in the news and obituary as a Blockbuster employee despite having a Masters degree among my accomplishments.

Sorry to focus on the negative and depressing, but 9/11 and the DC Sniper really stand out as the most significant events to occur since I moved to DC. However, I have much more to write. Therefore, consider this part one. I plan on sharing thoughts about being a Pittsburgh sports fan in DC, reliving my California Tortilla experience and trying to determine whether or not I qualify as a Washingtonian in a future entry.

1 comment:

getfreshdesigns said...

Wow. I totally forgot about that sniper. That would have been terrifying.

9/11 I had no idea what had happened until my lunch break. Had just started my job a few months earlier and was checking PDF manuals, listening to music the entire morning. Then went on and wondered why there was a picture of the twin towers on their site and thought are they promoting some movie or something. I was totally oblivious.