Monday, March 14, 2011

2014: Chapter three

Chapter 3: Metro

Washington DC has a very pleasant public transportation system, called the Metro.  The metro has five train lines which are represented by colors.  We live on the red line, three stops from the end and have to cross two states to get downtown.  It roughly takes one hour and I have to change trains once.  The Library of Congress is located on the blue and orange line, on the corner of First and Independence Street.  I often hear the most amazing stories before and after work.  There is no reason to take our car unless we wanted to get stuck in traffic.

The metro station is literally across the apartment complex.  There is a very small grocery store near our lobby.  It only takes eight minutes to walk to the station.  On the way are two ponds, many ducks, and a few trees.  If the season is right there are sometimes migrating birds and frogs.

We briskly make our way down to the metro and hop on the train.  My wife buys a newspaper.  I make it a point to watch the news and read newspapers daily.  There are two secrets if you want to be successful is our nation’s capital.  The first one is obvious; networking is the life blood of any career orientated individual.  The second is a little more obscure but just as important.  People need to stay informed if they want to be respected and the best way to do that is to know what’s currently happening. 

I chuckle as I watch her instantly flip pages to the cartoon section, “April, I swear you would live your whole life in a drawing if you could.”  My wife looks professional today.  She is wearing a dress suit and her brown hair looks vibrant, the sun is warm as we pass a clearing before going back underground.  The train is making good time and there are not many people on board.  After 9 AM the crowd thins out because everyone is either at work or at school.  There are two older females who look like they could be grandmas.  They are talking about their grandchildren.  Near them is a homeless man who smells of piss and alcohol.  Across the aisle are two teenagers who look like gaming nerds.  They have matching shirts which flaunt world of war craft characters.  Maybe they are going to a nerd convention.

Looking up I see two advertisements, the first is an air force pilot who is promoting the US military, to the right is second picture of a woman sneezing into her sleeve, followed by her washing her hands for preparation of the flu. 
After a few minutes my wife gives a slight laugh and finishes the comics, “Do you want this when I am done?”  I answer no.  One of the geeky teens pipes up that he loves cartoons so my wife lets him have it.

She gives a slight gasp when she starts to read the international news, “Greg, did you know Japan is still in a recession after they lost their nuclear plants?”  I shake my head as she continues to narrate the news article, “Apparently over 600 people got radiation sickness since the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, they finally plan on helping the families that lost people.  Over 150,000 died.”  I felt sad for them but at the same time I was happy that natural disasters such as this missed America.  We did have a few disasters in the last few years, but not like other nations. The biggest surprise, which wasn’t a surprise, was when the earthquake hit San Francisco in 2012.  Unlike Japan, we had ample warning and there were minimum causalities.  We did however lose a third of the city when it gradually started to slide into the sea.  Government forced an evacuation and only the fanatics, sick and old stayed.  There was no Tsunami.  I think many people did not fight to stay because a lot of us simply want to survive.  Regardless, a lot of California’s migrated to Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, and Seattle.  Only 30,000 people died.

I ask my wife, “Anything new in the world?”  After a few minutes of reiterating things I already knew she finds something of interest.

“Yes, do you know what happened to China?”  I briefly recall that in 2011 they had a crisis.  An earthquake did some unexpected havoc in the western part of the country.  April continues, “The disaster relief department of China's Civil Affairs Ministry says they were unprepared for the earthquake that occurred late in 2011!  It’s been two years and they finally released the reports.”  I perk up; information like this could really impress my coworkers if they didn’t read the paper this morning.

April continues, “The Chinese ministry finally admits that city planning happened too quickly.  A few advisors knew they were building in geological unsafe places.”   

I quickly insert, “They should not have been greedy to outdo the world economically.  China could have been content when Japan got hit by the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear reactor incident in 2011.  Instead they invested billions of dollars to enhance their economy and built entire cities on fault lines.  Caution was discarded.”  November of 2011 saw an end to China’s economic expansion.  At 9:43 AM multiple earthquakes started in the Wenchuan, Sichuan Province.  The land split and streams became rivers and lakes.  Within 6 hours over 300,000 died and millions became refuges.  To make matters worse the earthquakes aftershocks destroyed many of the countries dams and nuclear plants.  Another half a million died due to floods in the eastern China the same week.

April concludes, “The Chinese government shot and executed the top officials who built the region.  They say that the reason the cities were built at those locations had something to do with political corruption.”  I notice we are nearing our stop at Union Station.  

“That’s cool honey, you ready for brunch at Burger King?”  My mind starts to go back to the day ahead of me.  I start shaking with excitement as we walk pass the liberty bell at the entrance of the metro station.  There is a homeless person who has a blue plastic beer cup in front of him.  There is a sign on his chest made out of card board.  I pause for a second as I read his message, ‘The world ends today’, I toss a few pennies into his cup as the rest of the crowd walks by.


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