Bye Bye Baltimore (Part 1)

After six months of a five-hour daily commute (sometimes six), I am finally making the move to DC (well technically downtown Bethesda but close enough). I will be a 10-minute walk from work.

Of course, my Baltimore friends are sad and don’t understand why I’d want to move to DC when Baltimore is so hip and has that small town charm for a city.

But after three years of graduate school and another year working in my field, it’s time to cut my ties with a city that was a stepping stone for my career and an escape from the Midwest.

So before I make my exodus at the end of June, I’d like to reflect on things I’ll miss and things I won’t. This blog post constitutes the “won’t.”

I Won’t Miss …

The Crazies. I don’t mean to sound harsh but this city has a real problem with mental illness and substance abuse. I can’t count how many times I’ve feared for my safety walking down the street or taking public transportation especially near Lexington Market where I used to work. I can only hope they will eventually get the help they need.

Lexington Market. I haven’t lived in many big cities, but Baltimore is one of the trashiest I’ve ever seen. People throw their waste in the street, polluting the bay. There’s a constant fishy smell downtown (which could be due to its close proximity to the harbor). I often pass discarded heroin needles, chicken bones, plastic bags, and cigarette butts scattered around storm drains.

Public Transportation. I’ve taken the bus, the Light Rail, the Metro Subway, and the MARC Train, and in most cases, I would be better off walking. Delays, delays, delays, or in some cases, MIA. Not to mention that driving isn’t much better. Pedestrians jaywalk everywhere, cabs constantly cut you off, and tourists create so much back-up that it’s not even worth the hassle to go around the horseshoe promenade to get to the other side of the city. There’s also no highway that crosses from East to West, just a hell of a lot of buses.

The “Charm” of Charm City. Although I can smile and fake it like any good customer service rep, I am not a people person. But people here will say hello to you randomly on the street and start up conversations at the bus stop even though you have your headphones on and are reading a book. Why should this niceness irritate me so? One, I don’t like to be bothered, and two, I don’t believe it. I always thank they have some other angle, like they’re trying to get me to put my guard down so they can get something. Most are probably just looking for someone to talk to, but I’d rather be safe than sorry and left alone, although I have gotten better about blatantly ignoring people on the street and giving them directions if they stop me. This is a tourist destination, after all.

The Loudness. I sleep through sirens of all kinds, fireworks, bells, and whistles, but I will never get over how loud people in Baltimore can be, to the point of inconsideration and annoyance. I don’t care if so-and-so is going to the Ravens game or so-and-so won’t watch the kids for a while. If I can hear you over my headphones, you’ve crossed the line into obnoxiousness, not to mention the people who randomly sing aloud and the groups of women who scream at each other with giddiness. It also amazes me how many people will have fights on their phone among a train car full of people. Are we that self-absorbed that we don’t consider strangers may not want to be privy to our personal lives?

Dehydration. This is petty, but right now because I have a small bladder and the restrooms at Union Station are disgusting and crawling with bacteria, I don’t drink anything from the time I wake up (6 a.m.) till I arrive at work (9 a.m.). I miss water and cannot wait to quench my thirst. I also won’t miss Baltimore’s water quality. Besides the pollution of the bay and age old sewer systems, there’s something about the air here that drives my skin crazy. I’ve always had sensitive skin (my mom used to buy me the detergent for babies so that I wouldn’t break out in rashes), but here, I’ve never had such severe cases of eczema all year round.

A Sense of Entitlement. Maybe this is a nationwide trend, but I am always astounded by the sense of entitlement here. From the admin who treats me like shit because she hates her life to the teenage boy who doesn’t think he should be quiet on the “quiet car” of the train because it’s a free country or the middle-aged woman who wants her meal comped because it tasted “off” even though she ate all of it. Suffice it to say, I feel I’m entitled to say my goodbyes.

Next up, I promise to be more positive and look at the things I “will” miss.

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