How to Stay Safe in D.C. | The Washington Center

How to Stay Safe in D.C.

So, I've been here for two weeks now, and I'm not sure I ever want to leave. This place is sweet. If you've never been to D.C., I strongly urge you to visit. And if you're a history nerd like me, make it a long visit. Capitol Hill and the National Mall are breathtaking, and if you appreciate architecture, your neck will be sore from days of involuntarily gawking up and down the streets like a kid in a candy shop.


Courtesy of Deng Garang, my roommate


But not even Winthrop's "shining city upon a hill" was perfect, and the people of the Capital will be the first to tell you: neither is D.C. So, if you do make a nest here, it's good to learn where to go and where not to go. Luckily, I already did a bit of that for you.


It happened because the Wal-Mart on the corner of 1st and H Street ran out of coat hangers. I wasn't aware that could happen at a Wal-Mart, but I guess the sudden influx of interns took a toll on their stock. As a result, a group of us went out around 5 p.m. in search of another retailer.


Now, when you set off for some anonymous dollar store that Mario found on Google Maps, you should pay attention to the area that it's in. That's lesson number one. Unfortunately, Google doesn't have their satellite imaging color-coded by crime rate, so we didn't really know what we were walking into.


Let me back up a sec. A couple days before I left Tennessee, I became very concerned with the possibility of getting mugged. I met my friend Amy for lunch, and over a Caesar salad she told me about the time her dad got mugged in D.C. Nothing too violent, only financially bruising, but still. Made it a little too real.


As I was driving home I realized something about myself: I'm super muggable.


I am, in fact, the textbook definition of muggable. Well, there is no textbook definition of muggable, but that's why we have the Urban Dictionary.


Muggable (Adj.)/(n.)

1. One who is extremely pitiful in the ways of self-defense and security, who, by muggers, would be viewed as "irresistible to mug."


The short of it is, I'm universally nonthreatening. I never broke six foot, my pallid skin is virtually reflective, which draws unwanted attention (especially when I'm squirting sunscreen all over the place); I'm scrawny, I have red hair, I'm peppered with freckles (each a kiss from an angel), and I hum happily while I walk.


Also, 70% of the time I'm outside, I'm looking down at my phone. If you wanted to mug someone, you'd choose me. You just would. I'm the filet mignon of muggables.


It was a frightening realization.


However, you'll be glad to know that I have not yet been mugged, and I actually don't plan to be, because there has been a development. Yes. A turning of the page. I was blessed by the universe with two secret weapons. I call them my "roommates."


They were a little disappointed not to be included in my last post, so I'll give them each a carefully detailed introduction now.


Richard "Ricky" Connelly

Height: 6'4"

Birthplace: New Jersey

Beard: frankly, very impressive.

Threatening? If he wants to look like a Hell's Angel, he just takes off his glasses, like a reverse Clark Kent.




Deng "pronounced 'dang' as in 'dang, Deng, you got some nice hair" Garang

Height: 6'2"

Birthplace: South Sudan

Threatening? Get him cornered, and he's a coiled cobra just waiting to strike. He's also literally the size of the Washington Monument.




I should mention that I have a third roommate. He's almost as muggable as me, so he's not a secret weapon so much as a potential distraction -- equally valuable, in my opinion.


Aaron "A-Aron" Kipfmiller

Height: 5'10"

Birthplace: Wisconsin

Favorite book: Great Expectations

Threatening? Nope.




So, back to the coat hanger situation. To make a long story short, when the windows start hiding behind thick metal bars, and the coffee shops are replaced with empty storefronts, liquor stores, Payday Loans and chain-link fences, you should consider buying your coat hangers somewhere else.


Or you can do what I did and hide behind Rick.


See you next week!




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