March 17, 2005
While I was having breakfast with Evan and Kristen I started talking about how weird some things seem to me down here in NoVA. Evan said he'd like the read the newcomer's take on things, so here goes.
Cost of Living
Holy crap this place is expensive. My apartment here is much nicer (and a bit bigger) than the one in Pittsburgh, but it also costs twice as much per month. In the 'Burgh if I made what I am here I'd be doing pretty good. Here, I'm getting a review in three months to get my pay more in line with what I should be earning.
Signs of Civilization
Yes, Virginia, you can buy beer in a grocery store, and buy it by the six-pack. I won't go into the inanities of liquor in PA, I've spent too many years bitching about it already.
I got a speeding ticket on my way to the interview that got me this job. Due to certain circumstances -- this area is crawling with lawyers -- the speeding ticket is an 8½x11 sheet of paper as opposed to something the size of an overgrown post-it note. Instead of the officer calculating your fine and writing it on the ticket, as is done in PA and Ohio, another sheet of paper listing the possible infractions and fines is provided to the offender. So now I know that my ticket is for $57 in court costs plus $5/mph over the speed limit. If I tell you the limit was 45 where I got pulled over, you can figure out how fast I was going.
Again with the lawyers. My leases in Pittsburgh have all been a handful of normal sheets of paper; I think the longest was 6 pages. Here everything's on legal paper (8½x14) in smaller type. By the time I was done with addendi and notices, I'd signed or initialed at least a dozen pages that size. But on the upside I know what the landlord will do if I suffer a heart attack and die while trying to decipher my speeding ticket.
I saw a little touch of home on the way in to the office this morning: People making a left turn at the end of the light blocked off the intersection because traffic wasn't moving. Other things were quite different though. While visiting Cory and Htet Htet in January it snowed. I-495 (the Beltway) was a mess. In two inches of snow (a dusting where I'm from) people were skidding, spinning out and wrecking. I think a plow truck had to be flown in from Buffalo, since it took them several hours to even attempt a road-clearning. So maybe Christmas shooping will go well this year, since I'll be the only one crazy enough to go out.
And that's just from a handful of days spent here. There's no telling what I'll see once I've been here for a while. I'll adapt, though: I already like this place more than Pittsburgh.