One of the things I hated most about living in Washington, D.C. during the two-and-a-half years that I was in the Reagan administration was the way almost everyone there “breathed, slept, and ate” government. Of all the people in the United States, people in Washington have the hardest time understanding community because so many of them work in and/or support the most anticommunity organization in the country, the federal government. I rarely felt, for that reason, at all connected to my fellow residents. There was a coldness in many of them that I have never seen in any other community I’ve lived in. There’s good reason for the popularity of this expression: “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

Despite all this, I remember one great night when I bonded with some of my fellow Washingtonians. It was during a snowstorm, when the snow was creating ice on the road at rush hour and turning the trip across the Potomac into a huge traffic jam. On the bridge, I saw a car stuck on the ice with its wheels spinning. I got out of my car and ran over and pushed the car to get it moving again. The driver stuck his head out of the window and thanked me. In that one moment, there was a connection between us that I had never felt in that town.

Excerpt from my The Joy of Freedom: An Economist’s Odyssey.