This article from The Economist reminds me of an icebreaker question people ask me when they discover that I am new to the city: What do I like least (and best) about Washington D.C.? To remain consistent with the article, I’ll stay negative for now.
It is the blaring sirens that slowly pierce my peace whatever time of day. I don’t hear it now that I am in my apartment (I just did as I am typing this line- no kidding!). I heard it frequently when I lived in Dupont Circle, and still do when I am in my office downtown. It’s gotten so bad (or good?) that I just assign it to ambient noise. It’s a different story when I am on the street. They are so loud that I have to cover my ears as the Doppler effect rings the highest registers of the decibel scale and takes its auditory assault.
Three things come to mind when I hear the siren: (1) something serious is actually happening, may it be a fire, a medical emergency or a police response, (2) Obama’s entourage is coming or (3) to announce police ‘visibility’, and send a (false) sense of security (If you’re in the Philippines, another reason is to get ahead of a heavy traffic, but that is another story).
I should not be complaining, as I’ve lived in big cities most of my life, save for my university days in laid-back Los Banos. Maybe I am still adjusting from living in the ‘quiet’ cities of Germany. There I barely heard sirens, and in those rare occasions people would give a worried look as they watch and listen to a vehicle sounding off a siren and zoom by. They know it must be something really serious.
The next time I encounter these ear irritants, I just have to remind myself that this comes with the territory of living no more than six blocks away from the office, a hospital, and a cinema. I’m still a big fan of city-living for the accessible services, efficient transportation, and cultural offerings it has.