Friday, Friday, Friday, shutting down on Friday—
I apologize. This is serious business, and Rebecca Black references will not make it better.
Still, with a federal shutdown looming (if no short-term budget compromise is reached by 11:59 PM this Friday) and the entire metropolitan area on the edge of its collective seat, it’s worth preparing. And ComPost is here to help! Sure, you could listen to the Going Out Gurus. But what if you’re new to this city?
In the event of a government shutdown on Friday, one of the major areas of concern is the effect on D.C. tourism. School groups are scheduled to visit museums, but if the government shuts down this weekend, as many as 500,000 visitors could be turned away.
Don’t lose hope! Here are some tips on what locals do, in case your school group is stranded and faces the prospect of having to spend the day riding around on a double-decker tour bus in increasing desperation:
• Really, really intend to go to a museum.
• Go to a restaurant and keep thinking you just saw Hillary Clinton.
• Ride the Metro one stop too far and become disoriented. (You can spend whole days doing this!)
• Lobby. You probably have a special interest. Stamp collecting? Try to keep the Postal Service in business. Efficiency? Do the opposite of that!
• Swim in the Potomac to see if you develop superpowers as a result! NOTE: Do not actually do this.
• Design vaguely passive-aggressive license plate slogans such as “Taxation Without Representation” or “I Could Move to Maryland.”
• Complain about whatever suggestion has been offered for health-care reform, but don’t offer another one. This is a fun local activity, but be warned, it can get pretty competitive!
• Explore equivalents. Can’t make it to the Natural History Museum? Go to the National Cathedral instead. Depending on what school district you come from, you might be thinking of doing that anyway. Explain that “in a few years, our textbook will include a chapter stating that this is a possible explanation for everything in science.” Can’t make it to the Air and Space Museum? Go to a stump speech. Explain that this, like the space program, depends on hot air and people in uncomfortable suits who are making spacy promises. Laugh loudly at this weak pun to buy more time. Can’t make it to the National Zoo? It’s Squirrel Week! Celebrate this week by pretending to be impressed by squirrels.
• Run for president! Better yet, say you’re thinking about running for president. Form an exploratory committee. See how many votes you can get by saying things like “I’m not saying President Obama was born and educated in space, but then again, is he denying it?”
• Blindfold the class and take them to a random public area. Let them out and explain that “this is basically identical to the American History Museum in that it, too, contains none of the things in ‘National Treasure.’ ”
• As long as there are 500,000 of you, use the opportunity to show the power of numbers. Congregate on the Mall to show support for a random issue your class votes to select, something like “March on Washington Madness” or “Longer Lunches” or “Protect Cuter Species” or “More Random Holidays” or “Trees” or “Darth Maul Is the Only Good Part of the Prequels” or “Instate the Turkey as the National Bird.”
• Sit on the bus and watch “The Social Network.” If anyone starts fidgeting, yell, “Maybe if people would pay attention in civics class this sort of thing wouldn’t keep happening!”
• Form a pretend motorcade and follow someone home with blaring sirens! Bonus points for creating a traffic jam!
• Spend the day writing thoughtful cards to furloughed federal workers to lift their spirits.
If nothing else, consider this a lesson in the workings of government. That’s worth a weekend of traveling, although it would be nice if there were an iMax movie.