This morning there was some train drama. One train ahead of ours malfunctioned and this meant that ours was going to be packed by all of the stragglers from the offloaded train ahead of us. It meant a slight delay, but that was not really a big deal. You have to be patient when you take public transportation. When you take the train, you must do so with the understanding that any number of events that have absolutely nothing to do with you can result in being late for work. You also have to accept the smells, sights, loud headphones, excessively personal or boring cell phone conversations as well as the occasional personal space invasion.
Our train was a little crowded, but humming along until we reached Dupont Circle. This is three stations from my stop, where I transfer to the train that takes me directly to work. This is close to the point where I start closing my book and organizing my crap so I’m ready to hop up and exit in a quick and orderly fashion. It was at this stop when the doors closed and the train operator announced that the people in the third car would have to try to shut one of the doors. After years of riding metro I can tell you that that’s usually not a good sign. The doors fail if people try to hold them open or mess with them in any way. I appreciate the operator giving it the ol’ college try (and incorporating teamwork into the process), but in the end, we ended up getting off of the train and crowding up the platform.
In addition to this, people were still coming down the escalator from the upstairs entrance. It was like water flowing in a toilet that’s already plugged up and filled to the brim. Another train came by, tooting, and of course, it was empty. I don’t know why metro does this. Empty trains with LED signs saying “No passengers” have come through after a malfunction more times than I care to remember. You stand there knowing that everyone beside you is thinking, “WTF metro? What gives?”
Finally another train came, and then another. People were still spilling down the steps from upstairs. One guy in front of me—a tall wall of a man saw these people and cried “Stop coming down! There’s no room!” There was room. It wasn’t comfortable, but there was enough space to pack it in a little more. He continued his pleas to no avail.
When he brought it up to the metro employee trying to control the flow, she snapped. “What can I do, sir, I’m just one person!” Yes, she said sir, but it was not said in the respectful manner, but with a tone of contempt--Go fuck yourself, SIR.
“Tell them to stop coming down!” he whined.
The fourth train pulled in and people swarmed the entrances. I wasn’t going to make this one unless I moved. Sir-Whines-A-Lot was standing off to the side, complaining that the people coming down the stairs could bypass those of us waiting since the bottom of the stairs lined up almost perfectly with the train doors.
So I moved.
The first car was packed, but the people inside were far more jovial and welcoming than Whine Man. I wedged myself in, prayed for the doors to close and just like that, we were gone.