There’s been a lot of people renting out their houses and apartments for the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, asking for ludicrous amounts of money. Thousands of dollars per night with four- to five-night minimums. The only people more silly than the people who think they’ll successfully negotiate a non-cash short-term sublease without a contract, legal assistance, or their landlord finding out are the people who would gladly put forth that much money to be there in the first place. One homeowner in Mitchellville — some 20 minutes east of D.C. — is trying to rent their gated-community home, so I figure I’ll throw mine into the pot.
My place sits about 25 minutes north of the National Mall. It isn’t in a gated community, but it’s only a few minutes from the Parkway. It’s got loads of on-street parking without a parking enforcement official in sight, a 13-inch standard definition television with basic cable, an AM/FM radio with tape deck, and a case of light beer in the mini-fridge. It’s a short drive to the MARC station, where you’ll be magically whisked down to Union Station. For those of you naysayers who say “gee, that’s awful inconvenient” haven’t even begun to think about it.
Once at Union Station (or any other station for that matter) you’ll join all the other people trying to get to the Mall via the mass transportation marvel that is the Washington Metro. Your wait begins now. You will push and shove while all of the out-of-town folks frantically attempt to purchase fare cards. Back when the HFStival was at RFK Stadium, the Metro was packed with the 50,000 people that were going to be attending; they’re expecting just shy of a million people to ride the Metro on January 20th. Let’s hope all the fare card machines are working and that Metro employees are selling day passes for cash to speed the process along. Once you have your fare card, you’ll wait in line some more to get on the escalator. Whatever you do, don’t forget the unwritten law of Metro escalators: the left-hand side is for walking, so stand to the right. If you don’t the locals — who are desperately trying to get home from work, if they were unfortunate enough to have to go to work that day — will attempt to slice you to pieces by leering at you or clearing their throats. Once you’re on the platform you’ll have to wait for a non-full train to stop, since there’s a lot of other stops to the west that will have been loading up the trains already. Eventually you’ll get on a train and go through a similar crawl to disembark, eventually to pop up at (or hopefully near) the Mall. Don’t forget to have a good time.
On second thought, savvy people wouldn’t even bother with it. The logistics just don’t work, even if you are renting a place really close where you can walk in. Having been to Times Square for New Year’s Eve before — packing in with just under one million people — I can assure you that getting in and out of the Mall will be a disaster waiting to happen, most definitely not for the claustrophobic. Our nation’s capital is expecting upwards of four million people to attend. For the mathematically un-inclined, that’s three million more people that show up at Times Square each year. And they’re used to it up there in New York City. Despite all of the police and military presence that will be in attendance and all the planning that’s going to go into it, we won’t be ready to handle that many people. It’s going to be a mess. In fact, you’d have to be absolutely nuts to be anywhere near the District on Inauguration Day. But for some reason, everyone wants to be there on January 20th.
What are you waiting for?
I could set you up on a cot in basement or living room. There’s a collapsible futon too. Or if you’re planning on making it back that night after the main event, I could set you up in the garage instead.
Make me an offer.