So there I sat, huddled with my wife last night around the hi-def 60” flat screen television watching Carl Sagan’s “Contact,” when my blushing bride turned to me and said, “Wouldn’t it be great if we actually did contact another species. It would make all of our troubles seem so small.”
She had to tell me this twice and the reason is because as I sat watching this movie, all I could think about at the end was the hearing being held in Washington D.C.
There sat Jodie Foster being grilled by a host of senators and James Woods as a menacing politician – sort of a cross between Mitch McConnell and James Carville.
After she is grilled in front of hundreds of people she walks outside of the building and out by the reflecting pool and is greeted by thousands of well wishers.
I couldn’t get beyond one thing: How did all of those people get down to the District?
Did they carpool in? Wow, the traffic is horrible. They probably came in from out of town on I-95 or I-270. Man the traffic there is horrendous.
I mean we spend nothing on infrastructure around here.
What if they took the Metro? Or Amtrak?
Wonder if any died in a Metro fire on the way there or are still trying to get there and were cheesed off because they couldn’t make it in time to cheer on Jodie Foster’s character?
Maybe they were listening to WTOP radio at home for “Traffic on the Eights and when it breaks” and their power went out because Pepco/Exelon couldn’t keep the power turned on during a nice weather-friendly day?
Of course if they drove down River Road or through Silver Spring or anywhere else in the area, maybe they didn’t make it because an aging WSSC water main burst and created a nice scenic Class 5 rapid for local kayakers.
You see, that’s where the movie lost me.
While my wife was filled with the grandiose dreams of us discovering life on another planet, I for one couldn’t get beyond the fact that it is becoming increasingly apparent we live in a Third-World Country.
Congress wants to vote themselves a raise. They don’t mind giving tax breaks to the wealthy and they certainly don’t mind spending money on the military.
But infrastructure? Forget it. We can’t keep the power on, the streets free of bursting water pipes, build roads that can handle our traffic or make sure our wonderful Metro system doesn’t burst into flames.
This week, according to Metro, we suffered a “moderate service disruption” when they had to close the Bethesda Metro during Tuesday’s morning rush hour – ostensibly for another arcing incident, or fire or smoke or whatever. After closing it down, Metro re-opened it for single tracking half way through the morning commute and rerouted north-bound traffic. Those traveling north who wanted to stop at Bethesda, according to WTOP, had to travel to Medical Center, get off and then travel south bound to Bethesda. Finally around 10:30 a.m. Metro re-established full service.
Thousands of frustrated people felt the delay of our substandard subway system yet again. Thankfully, this time, no one died as happened earlier this year.
The wonderful people at Metro still don’t know how to communicate effectively, because as of Wednesday afternoon they still didn’t know what happened. Or at least hadn’t effectively told us when we called several times on deadline to get their side of the latest debacle.
We had a reporter chastised for calling several times, but the good people at Metro showed they are about as good at communicating with us as they are transporting people.
Meanwhile the U.S. Congress cut funding to Amtrak a day after a fatal accident on one of its busiest routes between Washington D.C. and New York.
It just makes me wonder if our elected officials are either too stupid to do their jobs or just don’t care any more.
I actually don’t know which scenario scares me more.
But, in answer to my wife’s question, I don’t know if it would be great to make contact with an alien species. They might look at us and figure we’re no more to them than ants are to us.
We certainly don’t make rational or intelligent decisions. We don’t take care of the things we build (I’m picturing my mom scolding me about taking care of my room and wondering if Congress is a group of motherless finks) and we certainly don’t care for the homeless, the poor, the elderly or the sick.
Exactly why would anyone want to make contact with us? Good movies?