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Wherever I go, I want to blend in. There are lots of ways I've found to blend in here in DC: wear flip flops to work and carry my dress shoes in my purse (also: carry a large purse). Don't even glance at the monuments - way too busy for that! Jaywalk whenever possible.

One sure-fire way to out yourself as a tourist is to break the unspoken rules of the city: The City Etiquette. I've made it my mission to study DC's Etiquette. Here's what I've noticed:

1. If you're on an escalator and you need to stand, you stand on the right. Need to walk? The left is all yours. This is always the rule on the metro. Where it gets confusing? Escalators anywhere else. The mall? Movie theatre? Your guess is as good as mine. But for God's sake, don't give yourself away as a tourist by standing on the left in the metro.

2. Speaking of the metro, the train cars have two seats next to each other, an aisle, then another two seats. This means you sit next to a lot of strangers. Bad etiquette? Someone who sits in the aisle seat, leaving the window seat "open"...but socially inaccessible.

3. A busy sidewalk is a busy sidewalk is a busy sidewalk...but in DC, sidewalks get REALLY busy. So the best place to stop and pull out your map/cell phone/water bottle is generally not the middle of one.

4. On the west coast, acceptable stranger glancing distance is generally about 10 feet. Here? More like 20. Or not at all. Most of the time, you don't even acknowledge that there are other people around if possible.

Gotta go...back to blending in.


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