©Moira G Gallaga
(Note: A blast from the past during our diplomatic posting at the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC. I wrote this in 2011)
After three years driving the same roads every week you would know your way around, correct? Well, I don’t.
Like I need any more “idiot me” moments, right? However, in my defence, I’m referring to a particularly nasty piece of road known as Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. Anyone who has ever driven in it would probably understand where my confusion and distress comes from.
Whoever decided that a roundabout with ten—read that, ten!—exits was a good idea should be back in school, relearning how to design roads. There are also two segregated lanes in the roundabout, just in case you decide you don’t feel like getting off the Merry-Go-Round for a while and instead want to kick back, relax, and listen to the music.
If that weren’t confusing or challenging enough already, the centre of the roundabout has a nice little park with trees and a fountain. It is also full of people and has got a number of crosswalks. So while navigating the maze that is Dupont Circle you must be on the lookout for pedestrians as well as your intended exit of that roundabout. I get this sense that in their eyes are looks of mirth, as if they know I’ve travelled this road every week and still have to call my husband for directions because even my GPS is befuddled by Dupont Circle. At least I’m not the only one.
I work at the Philippine Embassy, WDC. As if I’m not already late enough, I have trouble navigating the roads outside the Embassy. There’s this one time I saw Resty, a colleague of mine, and then I realized “Oh, God! This is already near the Ambassador’s residence.” A second and closer look at the surroundings confirmed my belated realization. This was the other side of the diplomatic enclave called Embassy Row. Our Embassy was in the opposite direction across Dupont Circle. I was supposed to exit Dupont Circle towards the South but ended up going North, the merry-go-round from Hell had got me disoriented again. Needless to say, I don’t tell my colleagues about my fights with Dupont Circle. I’d never hear the end of it. The forthcoming jokes would have been relentless.
My husband offers a chuckle every time I call him. Those chuckles were sounding a bit forced after a while, but there’s nothing I can do. When my mechanical GPS fails me I must turn to my human GPS. He’s gotten used to it, and he would say the same thing every time. I think he had the directions written down, a little sticky note in his wallet. He’s used to communicating with people and being patient as he tries to reach a consensus on difficult issues. In this case, garnering his wife safe passage to work.
While I’m driving in circles trying to figure out the right exit again or how to get back to the proper lane within the roundabout, peering at the roads that all look the same with their asphalt and sides of buildings and trees and cars, my fingers hit the speed-dial. My husband had learned to anticipate my calls in that he always picks up on the first ring and automatically asks which building I’m near at to serve as a reference. I describe it and he tells me the next time I pass it to go a certain number of exits in order to get out of the right one. I haven’t the faintest idea how he knows which exit I should be taking by my less-than-impressive building descriptions. I have a hard enough time recognizing the building for my next loop around the Merry-Go-Round.
I don’t know how Washington D.C. locals do it. Dupont Circle isn’t the only roundabout in Washington D.C. It is the worst though. I guess once you’ve conquered the worst of roundabouts the others are like mere pebbles on a pathway.
16 September 2011