Has anyone noticed the people standing around downtown, usually near Metro stops, with the red-and-blue jackets and walkie-talkies? They’re called Downtown SAMs (note how that page doesn’t tell you what SAM stands for), and their job is basically to help you figure out how to get where you’re going, or where’s a good place to eat, etc.
Clearly, their services are meant primarily for tourists, however, I’ve found them invaluable in compensating for my complete and utter lack of a sense of direction (my ability to get lost is the stuff of legend). Usually, when I come out of a Metro station, I’m slightly disoriented because my internal compass just can’t deal with being underground. I’ve found them to be extremely polite and helpful, and even if they can’t specifically tell me how to get where I’m going, they’re happy to give me a map of the area and help me orient myself.
The Golden Triangle District, where I work, has their own version of the noble SAM- they wear bright gold jackets and are equally enthusiastic to help you out with directions or recommendations and whatnot.
Often, these local ambassadors know the area they’re standing in pretty intimately, so try asking them for a good place to go for lunch or something. They might be able to give you a great recommendation for something you’d never think to try.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs