Thursday, January 7, 2016

My Trip Into Hell

Today, I have three appointments north of Fredericksburg. That's right, I will be spending roughly six hours of my day in what everyone else in the Old Dominion refers to as Northern Virginia. For those of you not familiar with the idiosyncratic nature of Virginia rivalries, let me attempt to enlighten.

Virginia is a very proud State. We are quite proud of the preeminent role that our State played in the founding of this nation, we are the Mother of Presidents, after all. We are,oddly, even proud of the roll we played as the most powerful and influential State of the Confederacy, for what that's worth. Virginia is full of proud people...proud and aristocratic. There's a lot of old money here. We fancy ourselves as the most genteel of states, that embodiment of our most beloved son, Thomas Jefferson's agrarian ideal. But somehow along the way, something went terribly wrong. That something is Northern Virginia.

Sometime around the 1940's with the arrival of FDR and his New Deal, the power and reach of Washington began to mutate. To accommodate this growing monolith, suburbs began to explode in size and garishness. This army of technocrats, functionaries, hangers-on, and sundry bureaucrats had to live somewhere, and who in their right mind wants to live in DC? So, suburbs like Alexandria, Arlington, Burke, Lorton, Centreville and Reston were transformed from sleepy little hamlets to buzzing centers of activity inhabited by people most assuredly not form Virginia!! To accommodate their commute, construction began on a bee-hive of beltways, bridges, off ramps, loops and towering six lane highways that literally has never stopped. 

So, here's how things are going to go for me today. I will take the Short Pump ramp onto interstate 95 around 11:30. It will take me about 50 minutes or so to make it to Fredericksburg, a 53 mile drive. Then, just north of this, last truly Virginia city on 95, I will begin to notice a sea of red tail lights ahead. That means it has begun. The 46 mile drive from Fredericksburg to the Occoquan exit will take about an hour and a half. But that's the easy part of my trip. Once my last appointment is over, it will be around 5:30 in the afternoon. The roughly 100 mile drive back home will take anywhere from 3 hours to a day and half.

My brother has lived just over the border in Gaithersburg, Md. for the past twenty years or so and has had to fight this insanity on a daily basis. The fact that he has not killed one of his fellow commuters is a miracle. No wonder people who work in Washington are always in such an angry  mood! Maybe if our nation's capital was in Key West, there wouldn't be so much partisan hostility...and we Virginians could have the top third of our State back!