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Sometimes our beautiful city can get a little, shall we say, crowded- remember that time the Pope visited? So we sent our most anxiety-prone staffer to scout out the very worst times and places for socially anxious people. Enjoy (or hyperventilate) accordingly. 

Oh jeez, oh man. Okay, you can do this, NervousDC. You can do this. Here goes. These are the 5 worst crowds inside the Beltway, as experienced by a soon-to-be diagnosed agoraphobic.

5) It’s Chinatown

The fifth worst is the Chinatown metro stop during the Wizards basketball games. I don’t go to the games, of course, five minutes after entering the Verizon Center I’d begin sweating profusely, quivering, and would probably soon literally have a heart attack. But just riding those escalators and walking past all those enthusiastic fans to reach a quiet corner of the Greene Turtle in time for the crab-cake slider special is absolutely terrible for my condition.

4) Dupont Nights

Next has to be Dupont Circle anytime after 8PM. The high pitched laughter from intoxicated interns, the constant honking inside the circle, gruff begging from our park’s homeless population, revelers swarming Buffalo Billiards and the Big Hunt, I can’t handle it! Just get me my Strawberry Smith Island Cake at Kramerbooks and get me out of here!

3) High Noon at Eastern Market

Thousands of jostling shoppers barking out their orders and wrestling over every papaya-onion loaf and artisanal scarecrow-scented bath candle makes my skin crawl. I have to grab my Canales BBQ sandwich with homemade coleslaw and evacuate before someone mistakes my head for a gourmet Halloween jack-o-hamloaf.

2) Smithsonian Museum of Unnatural Overcrowding

Okay, this next one is just hell on Earth for someone like me. It’s the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on a Saturday afternoon. Seemingly billions of shrieking children, harried parents, glacially-slow grandparents, shouting security personnel, and blaring audio exhibits besiege my frayed nervous system from all directions, threatening to overwhelm my mind and send me stampeding for the many convenient exits. I can barely stay long enough to see the entry whale before I stumble back down the steps

1) The Metro Center Rush

I shudder to even say it. Metro Center, at rush hour, threatens nigh-eternal madness. Trapped in the human maelstrom of RBF commuters from the Red, Blue and Orange lines, I feel as though I am moments away from being sucked into an undertow of hurrying hard-soled shoes. It’s almost impossible to move without brushing against someone’s bacteria-ridden handbag or backpack, and that’s not mentioning the very many dirty hands probably touching the turnstiles each minute. I actually hide out in my empty office until just before midnight to stay out of that mess.

Okay, so glad that is over. I’m going to go catch the Green Line before all the schools let out.