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January 07, 2003
And another thing...

Now that I've got the juices flowing with today's memo (see below), I want to have a word with my fellow Metrorail users. (For those of you who don't live in D.C., the Metro is our version of a subway, paid for by your federal taxes.) First, for those of you who like to stand in the doorway, do you think that pressing your back against the entryway panel and sucking in your stomach actually changes the fact that you are in the freaking way? We can all appreciate that you want to be the first one off at your stop, but your behavior is discourteous.

Or, look at it this way: 90% of the people in this town work either for the government, a law firm, an interest group, or a media outlet. In other words, every minute the average Washingtonian is late for work is a net plus for the U.S. economy. So do your part to keep America strong, and step on into the train with the rest of the unwashed heathen.

I also have a beef with you people who think that the urgency to get on an imminently departing train dissipates the moment your fanny has cleared the threshold. News flash: the rest of us want to get on too. This is why we step on your heels and curse at you. Don't tell yourself it's just the unfocused impersonal hostility of city dwellers. It's actually quite personal; we want you, specifically, to die. Just don't do it until you've moved quickly to the middle of the train, unless you want your next-of-kin to retrieve a battered, heel-marked corpse from Metro Security.

Finally, whenever you find yourself in a crowded transit junction, say, Union Station or LaGuardia Airport, the fact that masses of people are flowing in various directions is a pretty good indication, people being the rational utility maximizers that they are, that we are all trying to get somewhere. The point is this: that aimless ambling gait that some of you like to adopt as you kill time before your plane/train/car, or figure out just exactly where you need to go, is a bit, well, maddening. If you are running ahead of schedule to Aunt Martha's for Sunday brunch, do you just drop your highway speed down to 20 m.p.h.? Do you park in the middle of the expressway while you check your stinking map?

No, the answer is a big freaking NO. People moving in a crowded place are just like people moving about on the freeway, only slower, and without the benefit of two tons of metal with which to assault you for blocking the lane. Please, for my sanity and your personal physical health, move to the side if you aren't going to keep up the pace.

Now, if you are going to venture out into walking traffic with the rest of us, please, for the love of all that is holy, stay in your lane. What's with the slow-motion serpentine, Sheldon? Are you under fire? Are you a freaking honeybee all of a sudden? Did you flunk geometry? The shortest distance between Point A and Point B is a straight line. So unless you are the bishop in some life-sized chess game that I seem to be missing, keep it in the road, or at least out of my way.

Someone should write a book on the rules of life.

And lots of people should read it.

Posted by Woodlief on January 07, 2003 at 11:31 AM


Wonderful post, as usual (and the memo below is even better - see my post there).

Unfortunately, many such rule books have been written. I say unfortunately because most of the are stupid - in fact, the dumber they are, the more likely they are to be a best seller. I suspect that somewhere near the bottom of the list in terms of popularity there are actually a few that are what they should be, but stupid ones crowd them out.

Sigh. Ahh, the stupidity of humanity...

Posted by: Deoxy at January 7, 2003 11:46 AM

I think it would be safe to say you have issues.
That being said, I pretty much agree with you 100%.
Sheldon? Serpentine? Was that a reference from that old Peter Falk film? (what was it called, the In-Laws?)

Posted by: nathan at January 7, 2003 11:49 AM

I left a 41 mile commute (each way) that included 40 minutes on the Tee (Boston) 11 years ago.

During a visit 'home' we decided to visit the New England Aquarium and I thought it would be a good idea to take the kids (that they would find it fun!) into Boston on the Redline. Three minutes after the doors closed and we were on our way, all the old familiar commuter stress symptoms reappeared. The twisted stomach, the impatience for the ride to end, claustrophobia (we were not traveling during rush hour), etc. While the kids did like the Tee, I thought the ride would never end.

It's amazing what the body remembers when the brain forgets.

Posted by: Glen at January 7, 2003 12:43 PM

You've left out my favorite - the people who stop walking and look around immediately after stepping off the top of a crowded escalator. Where the *?* are the people behind you supposed to GO?!?

Posted by: Amy at January 7, 2003 1:14 PM

Okay, three things.

1) I think someone needs a hug.

2) On average, half the people you meet are dumber than average.

3) Elevators - Please let me off, before you decide to get on.

Posted by: Samuel at January 7, 2003 1:47 PM

You forgot the "walking four abreast" in the middle of the traffic/walking/bicycle lane.

Posted by: hbchrist at January 7, 2003 4:27 PM

And don't forget the people who ever so slightly push forward on the platform when the train is coming, almost sending you into the path of the train. The Metro: convenient; the people: intolerable.

Posted by: Chris at January 7, 2003 4:42 PM

No fair, making me crack up out loud at work. Here are a couple more favorites I used to run across while commuting to Manhattan every day: the schmuck who thinks his briefcase/coat/feet need their own seat on the train; the homeless/obnoxious/mentally instable/foul smelling person sprawled out napping on the subway, or having a belligerent conversation with the floor/window/empty space next to them.

It's not just a commute, it's an adventure!

Posted by: Lori at January 7, 2003 4:49 PM

Nice "In-Laws" reference.

Posted by: Jon at January 7, 2003 6:06 PM

I learned something about the rules of life from a taxi driver in Mexico City as we hurtled around the narrowing lanes of a traffic circle at 60 mph when I commented on his being a good driver and asked where were the bad ones. He replied: There aren't any. They didn't make it.

Posted by: omniologist at January 7, 2003 8:39 PM

Well...well...well...Mr. Tony - had your fun at my expense have you?

At least you allow for comments, so I can explain myself for clarity. I am not a "honeybee" nor am I "under fire". Calling me names and mocking me does nothing but hurt my feelings.

You see, the reason I weave to and fro is really quite simple. While I may or may not be taking a cellphone call and may or may not be blathering loudly for all the world to hear, one thing is a constant: I am a moron and I probably have to potty.

My side to side swivel has a two-fold purpose. One, I am trying to determine which side of the walkway has a restroom. When one is spotted, I can simply continue in the correct direction. Helped along by my mass and lack of muscle, I flow in the direction of said spotted restroom with the greatest of ease. Two, being a moron, I usually don't succeed in actually spotting a potty. The end result is I usually have britches full 'o goodness by the time I'm in your way.

So gimme a break, man. I'm a moron who craps in his pants.

Posted by: Sheldon at January 8, 2003 6:00 PM

You can get to LaGuardia via the Metro now? Wow! They really expanded that puppy since I've moved from Silver Spring! ;)

Posted by: JenBen at January 8, 2003 6:43 PM

You're forgetting the hordes of idiots who think that as soon as the door opens (this seems to be a real favorite at the Rosslyn stop), any semblance of right-of-way dissapears and those trying to get off can be trampled at will.

But you know what? We're only pissed because we call our mass transit effete crap like "the Metro" and expect effete Euro-type crap from the riders. It's the damned Subway. Never had problems like this in Mahhattan.

Posted by: Max at January 8, 2003 10:26 PM

Mr. Woodlief,

Two observations.

First, it might behoove you to organize your life a little better, so that you don't need repeatedly to turn making a train into an athletic event.

Second, there are many effective laxatives on the market. Try one. Or two. Preferably simultaneously.

Posted by: m615 at January 9, 2003 3:35 AM


I'm still waiting for another piece of work similar to the infamous 'SC Letter'(with one exception...you've got to select a different target). I want to laugh with the crowd this time.


Posted by: SWL at January 9, 2003 10:01 AM

AAAARGHH! Why I no longer take metro after 9 years of suffering. But here's my favorite. Standing in the farecard line in the morning behind X number of people. Inevitably, a woman (yes, always a woman) who has been in line for minutes at least, gets up to the farecard machine AND THEN starts rummaging in her purse for money! I had to get a car lest I become a serial murderer. And don't get me started on the tourists at rush hour who think it's cute for the precious spawn to play with the card machines while the rest of us are worried about making our bus connections.

Posted by: grayp at January 13, 2003 2:24 PM