Anonymiss in DC

{December 10, 2008}   Metro Etiquette

At some point in college, thoroughly annoyed by the existence of a book that was essentially a list of things to be happy about (it shall remain nameless, here :P), I decided to start making a list of things that piss me off. You know– things that  just grind my gears, make me want to rip my hair out, throw heavy objects.  That kind of thing.

For reasons wholly unknown to me, this was hilariously fun to do when I got bored and didn’t want to do anything productive. Most everyone I told about it said it was probably unhealthy. Others seemed slightly horrified at my bitterness, even though I tried to assure them it was all in good fun. It was DEFINITELY more fun than trying to make my own list of things to smile about (sunny days, chocolate chip cookies,  Christmas). After all, one can only take so much sunshine.

More recently, it’s occurred to me that I do an awful lot of complaining about the DC Metro system. Most of the time that complaining centers around behaviors and conduct I consider rude, unnecessary, obnoxious, or otherwise uncalled for. Then, the other day, after patiently listening to my commuting story, a friend joked that I should establish my own metro-rider code of conduct. Even though she was kidding, I think that was an excellent suggestion.

And so here goes.

We all know about the basics from our friendly announcers, and, of course, the fading signs hanging on the walls of the cars.

1. “When boarding, please move to the center of the car.”

2. “Please allow other customers to exit before attempting to board.”

3. “Let me tell you about our train doors. They’re not like elevator doors that automatically retract when they strike an object…

5.  “See it, say it. The Metro transit police would like to remind you that if you see something out of the ordinary on metro bus or metro rail that you SAY something to any metro employee, or call the metro transit police at 202-962-2121.” (Yes, I memorized the ad. It’s kind of hard not to after a while).

6. No eating, drinking, smoking, or spitting.

7.  No listening to music without an “earpiece.”

But let’s get real here. Here are some friendly (or not so friendly suggestions)

1.  No listening to music WITH OR WITHOUT HEADPHONES if anyone– including the person sitting or standing next to you– can tap their foot to the beat or sing along. I don’t CARE if your music “gets you moving” or “pumps you up” or whatever your personal issue is. Suck it up and turn the volume down or ride on the roof of the car. Outside.

2.  Every metro car has rows of 2-seats. This does not mean that you get to use one and a half or one and a third because your hiney’s a little bit bigger than average or because your coat is puffy or you because went grocery shopping, or because your momma says you’re special.  You get ONE. UNO. Suck it up.

3.  If your row of seats is in between other rows of seats, it is unacceptable to sit in the aisle seat so no one can get to the window seat. First of all that’s stupid, second of all it’s inconsiderate. If you really have issues with window seats, offer to get up when other people get on the train instead of waiting for someone to gather up the courage to ask you if they can sit there.

4. When you and a THOUSAND OTHER PEOPLE are waiting to board a mostly-empty train (like, for instance, at Gallery Place after a concert, or at rush hour at Farragut North),  move your ass to the center of the train like they tell you to. None of this “I need to stand by the door” or “I am going to take the first seat available” crap.  Again, suck it up.

5. If you’re in the window seat, and someone is sitting next to you, and you’re arriving at your station, you say “Excuse me” to the person in the aisle seat who must get up out of their seat to let you out. Brushing the person with your coat/ bag or giving them a look, or fumbling in your pocket(s) for your metro card is NOT an acceptable alternative, UNLESS that person sitting next to you is listening to music with earphones that are actually speakers. In that case, you are exempt from this rule.

6. Carrying on a telephone conversation or personal conversation with friends is perfectly acceptable but there is NO NEED TO DO IT AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS. As fascinating as the conversation is to you, NO ONE ELSE CARES. SHUT UP!

6a. If you have young children, this rule still applies to them.  There’s this thing called an “inside voice.” Show them how to use it.  Yes, YOU. Be responsible.

7.  STAND ON THE RIGHT, WALK ON THE LEFT. This is NOT that challenging. If you’re not sure which side is left, hold up your thumbs and index fingers. The side that makes an “L” is your left side. If you’re on that side of the escalator than WALK up it.

7a. ABSOLUTELY NO BAGGAGE OF *ANY* KIND is permitted on the left-side of the escalator at ANY time. I don’t CARE if YOU are on the right side and “my bag can’t walk on the left”, smartass.

7b. You want to hold hands on the escalator. That’s SO cute, but BOTH OF YOU HAVE TO STAND ON THE RIGHT.  If you want to be all affectionate or protective, than have that person stand in front of you and hold his/her shoulders.

7c. If you are walking on the left like you’re supposed to, that’s fabulous. But don’t be a jerk and walk as slow as you possibly can when there’s a line of people behind you who want to go faster.  It’s like the fast lane on the highway, move over to the right, let them pass, and then get back in the left lane. Got it?

8. Have your metro card IN HAND before you approach the exit or entrance.  Don’t stand there looking for it like an idiot.

8a. If you have kids, wait until you get ON THE TRAIN to announce to the kids that you’ll safeguard their cards until later, and then GIVE THEM BACK TO THEM before you get off at your stop.

9. If you don’t know where you’re going, MOVE ASIDE before you look at your damn map. Or walk along someone who looks like they know what they’re doing and ask them to tell you which way to go. DON’T STOP.

I think that’s good for now. I am pleased to answer questions.

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