Washington was only going to be my first stop after college. The plan when I arrived for my internship on Capitol Hill was to stay a year, add some lines to my resume and save some money. Then I would bounce off to wherever my next adventure would be — Chicago? New York? Abroad?
I certainly didn’t think I’d stick around long enough to get defensive about the city.
But eight years later, I’ve been surprised to feel miffed whenever it is held up as the epicenter of elitism or compared to Pakistan. Or, more recently, when I read about the city’s dearth of acceptable sandwiches and genuinely good intentions.
Plenty of writers have done a fine job of responding to the utterly ridiculous depiction of D.C. by Cindy Adams in the New York Post and the caricature of D.C. presented in the New York Times review of Mark Leibovich’s new book, “This Town.” So I’ll just point out a moment that made me realize why I’m right to feel protective of the city.
My wallet fell out of my probably half-zipped backpack on my walk home from work on Wednesday. The walk takes me from The Post’s downtown headquarters and through some streets I wouldn’t walk down alone past dusk.
When I got home and realized it was missing, I assumed the worst — the wallet was gone forever, or, best case, it would turn up in my mailbox in a few weeks containing nothing but deposit slips and my Cosi rewards card (I am halfway to my free sandwich, which I am happy about, even though it will be a D.C. sandwich).
As I started my list of calls to make and cards to replace, I got an e-mail from a man who had found the wallet. Ten minutes after that, I had it back, without a penny missing. He refused any gift of thanks.
These acts of decency happen all the time. Everywhere. You may be from a town or time where this is what always happens, and it wouldn’t be surprising or worth blogging about.
The buzz about “This Town” will probably increase when it’s released next week. But here’s your reminder that those ambitious Washingtonians chronicled in it are mostly either people who came here from your town or people who grew up looking after their neighbors here. Don’t be too disappointed to find out that they are often even willing to take a break from their “splendid, sordid glory” do good things.