The Metrorail Commandments
February 17, 2004
Preface, sort of: Metro is D.C.'s subway system. It's short for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, because Metro sounds better than Wmata. I love Metro, but it drives me batshit crazy sometimes. Well, most of the time. So here I present to you, innocent readers who could not give less of a crap, Amy's Holy Testament of Metro Rules to Live By, Cherish, and For God's Sakes Quit It. First of Three Parts. Because I Like to Ramble Something Crazy.
Part One: Escalators of Doom
If you stand still on an escalator within the D.C. Metrorail System, please stand to the right side. Riders who are in terrible hurry walk up the left side. Yes, most of the time they are rushing to stand and wait on the platform for their connecting train, but it makes them feel better to dash frantically up the escalator before the boring pacing and standing on the platform. Please don’t take this away from them. Some people have a favorite granite bench that they like to sit on everyday, or a favorite concrete pillar to lean against, and need to rush up and get it before someone else gets there and ruins their whole day.
Some people have a legitimate reason for rushing—they must catch a bus. And be advised that if they miss it because you chose to stand on the left side of the escalator and gawk about yourself in oblivion and blocked their mad frantic bolt . . . well, people have killed for less and Rock Creek Park, in addition to many lovely jogging trails, has lots of good places to hide bodies. Hi Chandra! (Oh, so very wrong. So very evil and wrong.)
This in itself is a sub-rule: Do not underestimate your fellow riders’ simmering repressed rage.
How the escalator rule started we shall never know, like most Lore and Legends of Public Transportation. It’s a damn fine idea, anyway. Smelly monument tourists who are on their way to museums have their own side of the escalator to stand on and gape and ooh and ahh at the impressive domed station ceiling; commuters who ever-so-desperately needed to be somewhere vitally important a good 10 minutes ago have their side.
All above rules are null and void when the escalators break down, which is not uncommon, which is the understatment of the century.
You can tell that an escalator is not working by taking note of 1) A big gaping hole where you would usually put your feet; 2) A big sign blocking the entrance with a smiling cartoon escalator on it and a cute saying like “Even escalators have their ups and downs,” or “Please pardon the inconvenience while I get back in shape for another safe run.” What the Metrorail system hopes to accomplish by humanizing the escalators is unknown. It might be a riot control tactic. And/Or 3), You get on the escalator but don’t go anywhere.
If you have determined that an escalator is not working, you may be as selfish and annoying as you like. People expect it. If you see a Mass Exodus of riders coming down an escalator, or vice versa, feel free to walk up it and force the Exodus into single file formation. If you are part of an Exodus, stop dead halfway up and turn around and walk down, mumbling on about forgetting your Magic Beans at home or whatnot. Be creative.
Or consider taking the elevator.
Tomorrow: Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Momma, It Ain't Your Train.