Whiling away the downtime in Washington DC
Alll over the city, furloughed workers have nothing to do, no influence to peddle, no power to get close to.
I can’t help it. Every article I read about the US government shutdown makes me think of President Bartlett looking across a beautifully polished mahogany table at Speaker Haffley and, with steely eyes laden with disappointment at another broken deal, says calmly, “shut it down”.
In The West Wing, the shutdown is resolved when Bartlett uses the full force of his moral superiority to convince Haffley to forsake the petty politics of his position for the good of the country. It’s hard to see President Obama doing the same with John Boehner and so the shutdown shuffles ignominiously into a second week with no clear end in sight.
But as the US government continues to make a fool of itself on a ridiculous point of principle, spare a thought for thousands of citizens of Washington, DC who’ve had to take an unpaid holiday as their federal jobs shut down.
All over the city, furloughed workers have nothing to do, no influence to peddle, no power to get close to. And so they try to keep themselves busy: gyms have put up signs offering discount deals on spinning classes and fitness programmes, and restaurants are offering shutdown specials such as the Shutdown Sausage Platter, available for $5 from 1905 (1905dc.com).
But mostly, Washington is drinking. DC ranks first among American cities for unhealthy alcohol consumption (according to a recent study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, also a victim of the shutdown), which is hardly surprising given that this is a city largely populated by transplanted outsiders perpetually on the make.
The best time to drink in DC is during happy hour, a key part of any Washingtonian’s social calendar. Happy hour is also the best time to observe that other great DC pastime, networking; where the masses of wannabe power brokers exchange business cards and tidbits of exaggerated gossip in the hope of currying favour and moving up the ladder.
I’m not immune to the lure of feeling inside, and so I tapped up my own source (L. at the Washington Post) for the skinny on where the Beltway insiders hang out (and get the best shutdown drinks deals). These include the Capitol Lounge (capitolloungedc.com), Lola’s Barracks Bar & Grill (lolasbarracksbarandgrill.com) and Hawk & Dove (hawkndovedc.com). Morton’s Steakhouse (mortons.com) is another good spot.
And then I got the really juicy tidbit. In a city where roughly 75 per cent of the population is unmarried, hookups are a big part of the scene. Since the shutdown began, popular ad websites such as craigslist have seen a massive spike in requests for sex from furloughed workers … “as a way of dealing with the shutdown”.
Bob Woodward got evidence of presidential malfeasance. I got bar names and a sociological insight. We all have to start somewhere.