So the first thing I did for my life as a lobbyist (yes, I was registered as a lobbyist and faithfully reported all my contacts as required by law) was to run out and buy a Honda Civic Hybrid to drive to work. A hybrid got you access to the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on I66 going into DC. This was absolutely neccesary since HOV lanes ended at the intersection with I-95 (known as the beltway) where the rest of 66 down to the bridge crossing into Georgetown was entirely HOV and driving alone there would rapidly get prohibitively expensive.
Now I could get by with a normal car if I could arrange to car pool with someone. Which in DC has resulted in a very active market in people who will queue up on the freeways and volunteer to ride into town in your car. But that’s a substantial pain in the ass, particularly given the odd business hours of DC generally rolling into the office at 10 and going home 12 hours later.
Which is another thing my standard engineer life had to get used to after a lifetime of going to work at the butt crack of dawn.
I could also drive up to Hagerstown still and take the MARC train in- about 3 hours of driving and jumping trains each way. Nope.
The choice of the Honda was another highly calibrated choice, too. A special license plate was required for access to HOV lanes. As an incentive to boost hybrid sales, the DMV offered blocks of special plates per vehicle model. At that point the Toyota Prius allotment had run out and were no longer available. The Civic was the only other hybrid designed for high mileage that had plates left. All the rest used hybrid powertrains to boost performance. And lowering fuel costs for a 150 mile daily round trip commute really was kind of the point.
And that’s just getting to work. Welcome to life in DC.
In 2000 Volvo had sold it’s car business to Ford (who subsequently sold the brand to the Chinese after a few years. Yes, your Volvo car is now Chinese last I heard) in exchange for acquiring Renault trucks and thier American subsidiary Mack Trucks. The Volvo I worked for was all commercial vehicles. And the Swedes never took anything seriously enough in the DC muscle game to even register in the company of Caterpillar, PACCAR (Peterbuilt and Kenworth), and Cummins so my job was mostly about writing position papers agreeing with everything the government wanted to do, being the mailing center of record for any government actions against us (I had the entire 4th floor of one of the largest and most expensive law firms in DC in the building next door at my disposal), and generally attending events and shaking hands.
Too many cool things to go into but eventually it became more and more odd and ill fitting. I’m not a party boy. I don’t buy into glamor. The ultimate introvert.
Then 2009 happened.
Next up- Into the Belly of the Beast