metro: standing, walking, questions

I thought I was done ranting about people on the metro. I mean what more can you say after so long, especially that hasn’t already been said on a million other DC area blogs, but ye gods!

Stand right, Walk left… it’s simple, unfortunately it’s also unofficial so I don’t expect it from tourists or other similar lost-looking people. I just say excuse me and move around them, no big deal. But when it’s a native, you expect them to follow the rules unless they’re just spoiling for an altercation. Still, there’s another aspect to walking left. If you choose to walk left, it’s assumed that you’re going to walk with a decent amount of speed! I don’t expect sprinting, but when you insist on inserting yourself in front of a line of fast walking people and you have to gently… saunter… down… the escalator… the people behind you are going to want blood.

This goes for older people who really think they can keep up, people (mostly women in high spiky heels) who haven’t gotten the hang of their footwear and anyone else that can’t get a move on. Walk on the right if you must, but walking left isn’t like an elementary school field day race where every participant gets a ribbon just for trying. Move your ass!

I’m also noticing that the warmer weather is bringing out more panhandlers. I was hit up once in the station on the way home yesterday and four times in and just outside the station on the way home today. The one that really burned my ass was this guy with a little girl. I was in the SmarTrip line hoping to add more onto my card, with my headphones on and I barely hear this guy say “Excuse me… Can I ask you a question?” The guy in front of me was taking far too much time at the machine, so I said “What do you need?” I’m familiar with the “ask a question” routine, so I really wanted him to cut to the chase so I can say yea or nay. I only then realized that I had no cash on me, so if this guy wanted anything other than a farecard, he was SOL.

He had a cell phone out and open, and was sort of dragging the little girl beside him. I tried not to take notice of this and asked again what he needed. Now get this: he looks at his phone and gives me the “hold on a minute” finger. He didn’t hold the phone to his ear or anything, just expected that I should wait on him, for some reason.

The guy in front of me in line was still not done doing whatever he was trying to do, so I ran out of patience and left. The man with the phone and little girl then noticed I was leaving and said “Hey man, hey…” I responded that I didn’t have time to wait and continued towards the escalator. As I started my ascent–standing on the right, mind you–I heard him yell, “Man what is wrong with you people in DC?!”

As someone who spent a long time working in telephone customer service, I really bristle at ever being called you people*, but I managed to keep my cool and not say anything back. There was another guy asking for money at the top of the escalator and then two more in the next ½-block. The only odd thing about this was that I didn’t recognize any of them. I know it’s weird, but after living in this area on and off for 10 years, I still see the same men and women with their hands out. I’m not sure what kind of statement that makes about our area, DC’s services or just their begging success rate in the neighborhood, but it would just be strange to see new faces in dire straits, I guess.

I’m usually the sucker who digs for a dollar to give to someone that looks down on their luck, but sometimes my patience just runs out. 👿

* I somehow managed to grow up without ever hearing “you people” used in a racial manner, and I am just fine with that.

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6 Responses

  1. mazzie says:

    Thanks for making me laugh out loud while waiting for the bus re: metro escalators.

    The bus is no picnic, but the last time I was on the train, I yelled at a stanger for the very first time in my life. Some dumbass had gotten a bag stuck in the doors (you are familliar with this bizarre and utterly unwarranted last-chopper-out-of-Saigon behavior, I trust) and two other dumbasses decided to help by pulling on the doors. I fot out of my adjacent seat and yelled at them to stop pulling on the doors, that they would open automatically, and that if they broke them none of us would go anywhere. I was ignored, of course, and the doors opened, of course, and the bag was liberated, the tuggers vindicated, and I was the looney lady who yelled. Of course.

    As for the panhandlers, we have a special breed in DC – the ones with the sad story. My car got towed and my purse was in it and I am going all the way to Vienna, etc. I fell for it reluctantly at first, and saw the same person with the same woes in another station the next week. What your was up to, I can’t even imagine, but I don’t blame you at all for walking away.

  2. Esprix says:

    A friend of mine once said, “We New Yorkers love tourists, really – just ask us directions or info about our town and we’ll tell you. We only ask one small favor in return – GET THE HELL OUT OF OUR WAY. Is that so much to ask?” 🙂

    latest entry: I found my toys today, oh, joy…

  3. lacochran says:

    I would like my ribbon for just showing up. This seems like the standard entitlement approach that is prevalent these days (among panhandlers and everyone else).

    (My way of saying) Good for you for moving on!

    latest entry: "Stepping out with my baby" –Irving Berlin

  4. shindo says:

    He thought he could put you on hold when panhandling? With a cell phone, no less! This guy lost your attention, so he feels entitled to it and they $ you might have had in your hand? Even if he had you attention, it’s no guarantee he’ll get anything.

    On public transportation, an interesting moment is guaranteed to happen. I was often happy for an uneventful bus or Trolley ride. The worst that happened to me on the Metro was some guy who should have been on his meds got into my face about taking pictures of the coming train and kept yapping about it. Yes, the tourists come home with interesting stories too.

    latest entry: Submit to ShindoTV

  5. Kyle says:

    I think it should be illegal to wear spiky heels in the Metro system (just like you are supposed to eat, drink, or play audible audio devices). Some pretentious so-and-so is going to get her heels caught some day, and guess who will end up paying for it? Sensible shoes, people!

    As for panhandlers, I always blow them off, but try to acknowledge their existence, since some of them seem just to want that. My fantasy is to develop a rapid-fire stock answer to the “Excuse me..” line: “It’s X o’clock, I’m not interested in Jesus, and all my change goes to tip my barrista!” But in truth, I’m not really that mean.

    latest entry: meh

  6. LiLu says:

    OMG, yes!!! Yes yes yes. This annoys the PISS out of me. If I’m wearing heels, I’m either hauling ass or standing on the right.

    And this line? …walking left isn’t like an elementary school field day race where every participant gets a ribbon just for trying.

    Had me seriously LOLing. Love it. Happy Vday, darlin!

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