C Street, N.E., where I live is a minor, one way, commuter route for morning Marylanders streaming into Downtown D.C. every workday.  It’s not some divided, controlled access highway but just a typical urban roadway – one eastbound travel lane, with parking on both sides.  And, if you time it correctly, you can travel from Robert F. Kennedy stadium – the old home Washington’s football team – for about 2 miles until you reach Stanton Park just two blocks east of my house where you will have to stop for one of the several traffic lights as you make your way around the square.   Late at night, when traffic is light, we get more than our share of speeding vehicles.

Around 2:30 this morning, we awoke to the screeching sounds of metal on metal.  Again. Looking outside I could see a large SUV front-ended into the oak tree right across the street.   What I didn’t see at the time, was the engine block laying on the grass a couple of feet behind the tree and the three other mangled cars – just behind mine, by the way – one of which looks to be “totaled” and two others severely damaged.  The sidewalk was full of bumper pieces and an assortment of car body parts and my neighbor’s wrought ion fence was bent backwards towards her house.   Looking at all this, it's hard to figure out how someone could cause so much damage on both sides of the street. One of the rehab hospital employees told me this morning that their CCTV videos shows that the driver was traveling around 80 miles an hour, according to him.  The driver was not hurt. 

This is not the first time.  Just under a year ago we had a similar accident, four cars damaged when a women “lost control” of her car while pulling out of the BridgePoint hospital’s parking lot.  As I was chatting with my neighbor’s this morning, a D.C. Fire Department fire truck pulled up and inspected the area  - the engine block laying behind the oak tree caught on fire after the accident.  Last night we had a D.C. fire truck and a D.C. ambulance with their attendant humans, as well four police officers on the scene all doing their jobs.  (At one point, the cops had handcuffed the driver but later released him after checking him out.)  All this reminded me of just how much we depend on public servants – those anonymous, forever maligned, lazy, good for nothing government employees - Ted Cruz (R-TX) and the Tea Party seem to overlook when they rant and rave about “intrusive, overreaching, jack-booted, job crushing” public employee slackers.    When you think about it, and apparently conservatives don’t, these are the folks who every single day go about doing their jobs so that we, us citizens, can go about ours in relative ease, efficiency and comfort.  Indeed, they are everywhere in legions but not as some politicians would have you believe, somehow screwing up our lives, making it more difficult to go about our business and forever taking away our freedoms.  

This morning I am also reminded at how dark and dire Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump, painted the picture of “real life” in the "real" America.  Despite the neighborhood mayhem and destruction of last night, it’s an America I don’t recognize.  Sure, I know that D.C. was spared the worst effects of the Crash of 2008 and since then the Washington region has gained new jobs at an even faster rate than most of the country, we’ve gained population and large swaths of the city are massive construction zones bringing thousands of new apartments and hundreds of thousands of new retail and office space to the city.  We have it good. 

But what about the rest of the country?  What’s it like out in the hinterland – the small cities and towns where so many of us live.  Are they the crime ridden, crumbling, dark and terrifying Armageddon landscapes that Donald Trump described in his acceptance speech the other night? 

The data – crime statistics, job statistics – do not support his view - but maybe it’s the “feelings” that The Donald is forever appealing to that are important here.  Maybe they are a better bellwether of the real state of America’s towns and cities.  I can’t speak for the entire country, but I can tell you what we discovered over this past summer as we travelled away from sophisticated, trendy, prosperous urban and urbane Washington, D.C.  Just a week ago we travelled out to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, a National Historic Site where John Brown’s failed 1859 revolt against the Federal Government took place.   Tons of visitors, lots of activity, tons of restaurants, all taking place in a handsomely restored historic town. (I got a $100 parking ticket after having spent half an hour looking for one and “took a chance.”)  But then Harper’s Ferry is an National Historic Site so maybe it isn’t typical.

We stopped in Cumberland, Maryland, population 21,000, on the way out and back, This small city is an old, colonial outpost and the western terminus of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal that begins in Washington, and as a result, Cumberland served as a 19th Century gateway to the West.  It was, during those times,  the second largest city in Maryland after Baltimore.  But no more.  It, like so many other smaller American cities, lost its industrial base and fell into hard times.  On my first visit back in the 1970’s, it was a virtual ghost town. Today?  With a revitalized downtown, a handsome historic district, what appears to be prosperous eateries, antique and specialty shops alongside new parks and spiffy street furniture, it has a vibrant feel to it, almost a 180 degree reversal from my first visit.  We happened to arrive in the midst of a street festival with folks selling arts and crafts, veggies, artifacts, old photographs, and a whole lot of other “stuff’ in a closed off street in the center of town.  Cumberland certainly looked nothing like the America The Donald Described.  

Earlier this year, we spent a week down in Charleston, South Carolina.  Same thing. Gorgeous city, jammed packed with tourists, full restaurants and the five block long Charleston Central Market was overflowing with tourists and locals pretty much all the time.  We also happened to be visit Savannah, Georgia,  during a three day Doggy Days celebration in beautiful Forsythe Park which was absolutely delightful with dog races, obedience contests and dozens of vendors selling all sorts of non-essential doggie toys and clothing.  Downtown Savannah did not look quite as vibrant and thriving as did Downtown Charleston, but all in all we did not see anything that gave us the impression that Savannah was in the grips of some dark, dire and hopeless circumstances.

Obviously my personal experiences don't necessarily translate into universal prosperity in towns and cities across the country.  But on the other hand, there was nothing in our travels that remotely resembled Donald Trump's country in ruins, besotted with crime and violence, falling into disrepair and despair.  Nothing of the sort.  Whatever the condition of the country is, it's not The Donald's country.  Where, exactly, is he talking about? 

PS: Just came back in from the scene of the last night’s accident where now we have a team of guys with brooms from the D.C. Department of Pubic Works sweeping up what seems like an acre of glass.  The team includes a tremendously helpful young Black man from the city who told us how to get a “Walk Through” site visit from the Mayor’s Office, the Police Department and DPW to see if we can’t get a speed bump or some other means of preventing this from happening again.  Oh, and the corner – 7th and C – is a magnet for fender benders averaging four to five every year.  Just as I was coming back inside a bright orange D.C. DPW street sweeper pulled up to finish the cleanup the guys started.

So there you are.  Those lazy, good for nothing, “Gubment’ Moochers” who are simply sucking the life out of the nation according to some, are busily at work cleaning up the mess and havoc that some crazy-ass no-doubt drunken driver at 2:30 AM this morning managed to wreck upon us.   I, radical liberal, America destroying subversive that I am, love them and thank them for their good work. Really great guys.     

PS: Now that most of the country is gripped in some sort of hellish heat wave since Replicans nominated Donald J. Trump for their presidential candidate, is God trying to tell us something?

Have a cool day!


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