This time it's the Iranians who are being cussed out by irate motorists, but we really shouldn't lose our sense of perspective.
Every embassy along Massachusetts Avenue has at one time or another done what the Iranians did Wednesday night, and the results have always been quite similar.
An embassy gives a party. Many people come to the party. Autos given "special permission" to park illegally throw normal traffic patterns into a tizzy - especially when darkness, rain, snow, and/or the evening rush hour become involved in the equation, as they almost always do. Homebound commuters growl and grumble, but they realize little can be done. What else is new?
The traffic mess created by the Iranians was one of the worst in memory because they had the bad luck to pick a dark and rainy day to invite so many people to their party. Those who arrived early in an attempt to obtain a favorable parking place began tying up Massachusetts Avenue traffic as early as 5:30 p.m., and from that moment on it was a bad scene for the masses of univited who were just trying to get home to dinner.
One critic has suggested that there would have been less of a tie-up if the Iranians had arranged to have their guests park on the inbound side of Massachusetts Avenue rather than on the outbound side, which is much more heavily traveled during the evening traffic peak. The point is well taken, but it overlooks an even more important point: After the guests had parked, they would have had to cross the street to get to the Iranian Embassy - and because of the darkness and rain, they would have been in grave danger of being struck by passing vehicles.
What it boils down to is that there is just no good way to have several thousand guests attend an evening party at an embassy located on a main traffic artery. Conflicts are bound to result, and putting up with the inconvenience - and danger - of those conflicts is part of the price we pay for living in Washington.
Living in the nation's capital has its advantages and its disadvantages, and ordinarily the balance seems a little bit in our favor. However, there's nothing like getting stuck in a 45-minute traffic stoppage to make the price of being a District Liner seem just a little bit high.