I started off this adventure with the greatest of expectations.
I ended this adventure disliking humanity as a whole; despising the Metro and it's many unwritten policies; wanting to have 15 more babies in response to all the looks I got from people who think the world is overpopulated; nevereverever wanting to live in a big city again; shocked by the cost of attending a free museum; BOLDER.
The first snag was upon arrival. I told the kids, "There may be a guard that digs through our bags, don't freak out." Simon let out an, "Uh oh." It was the kid of "uh oh" that let me know it was serious. "...What do I do with my knife?"-Simon. This is the part of the story where I explain that the child has been told to leave his pocket knives at home. He is not to have them under any circumstances, but especially not when we go into the city. This is Washington D.C. Luckily, Mr. Security didn't snatch us from the line, but I was pretty concerned and Simon(hopefully) learned to listen on that point.
Unfortunately, but the time I got bold, it was with the wrong person. I had had it with being cut in front of, ignored, stepped over, etc. So this kid bolts in front of us at the gift shop and I let out an un-Christian huff and, "...oooooooookay." He was quickly called out by his dad, who happened to be standing right beside me. In the boys defense, the line structure was non-existent and the store was so crowded you couldn't tell who was in line and who was just standing there to aggravate anyone trying to advance through the store. In my defense, I was cut in front of at 3/4 of the displays in the museum and my child in the stroller was almost fallen upon three times throughout the day.
I thought it would be funny to practice my cost analysis speech for the budget-master of the family.
"The Smithsonians are free!" It's a parroted phrase we've heard at least a thousand times since moving here. Let me assure you, the Smithsonians are not free.
To begin, there is the reduced rate(for going off-peak hours) Metro pass(x3): $18 round-trip
There is the H20 after riding on the crowded metro for 30 minutes and walking quite a bit considering the Smithsonian plaza is huge & Air & Space is at the very end of it: $5-for TWO bottles of water. Actually, this was the one price I was not surprised by today.
Thankfully, I packed our lunch! Otherwise, it would've added at least another $30 to our day.
The gift shop charade cost me another $20.
Getting back to the Metro TWO MINUTES past the reduced rate and having to up our cards by another $1.80/person: $5.40
And the greatest part was finally getting home, to our Metro station. I asked the man in the booth, "what's the deal with the smartcard to get out of the parking garage?" His priceless reply of, "Our smartcard machine is broken." <blink blink>"Then what do I do?" He said, "Buy a pass for $8.50." I was sure he'd misunderstood..."It's $8.50 to park? For one day?!" Having already paid almost $25 to ride the stinking metro?!
Off I go twds the pass machines, muttering to myself that it's no wonder so many people in this city depend on the gov't to take care of them. How can they afford to take care of themselves when the free things in this city are actually closing in on $100?!
It gets worse/funnier.
The unwritten rule is that CC/Debit cards can only be run twice in one day Metro wide. Come again? Oh, yes. Did I bring another form of payment? Nope. I was out of options.
The metro man pointed to a 7/11 in a strip mall, across the street.
It was rush hour at this point. And the street is a six lane highway that scares me when I'm in my car. I have three children.
We humped it across the street, got a $20 and huffed back across. I actually did giggle when the machine wouldn't take my $20. It would've been providential had a change fairy appeared to honestly break my bills into two 10s. God's favor was not shining upon me with my not-quite-joyful attitude.
Finally, finally the original Metro man (with whom I now have a relationship), broke my $20 for me. Now I know...always bring two ways to pay when going into the city.