Let’s Metro – Or Not

By Christine Figliozzi

Oh, the Metro. What an unassuming enemy. If growing up in the D.C. metro area has taught me one thing, it’s that the Metro can either be your best friend, or worst enemy. All depending on the day, of course.

More often than not, the Metro is my knight in shining armor. Showing up just in time to whisk me away to wherever I need to be. But, on a rare occasion, the Metro is the cause for my demise.

My first dramatic encounter with the Metro wasn’t even a personal trauma, but rather an eyewitness account of someone else’s. It was during peak hours one evening and I was sitting on a silver line train headed back home after a long day. I was getting my book out and waiting for the doors to close when all of a sudden, I hear a shrill screech. I look up and see a woman flailing half in the train and half still on the platform. Most would assume that the doors would be like elevator doors; when they sense that something is between them preventing them from closing, they open back up. Nope. Not the Metro doors. When they close, they close. Right before the train was about to depart she gets pulled back out onto the platform. I watched her face go from sheer terror to relief as we pulled out of the station. Needless to say, I was shook just from watching this episode.

The second encounter was a personal attack. It may not have been a physical one, but rather an attack on my mental stability and a true test of patience.

It was 6:30 am on a cold winter morning. The Metro had just implemented their Safe Track system and the trains were only running every 20 minutes. I could see the train pulling up as I swiped my card. Sure enough, as soon as I was about to step on the train the doors shut. Still traumatized from watching these doors eat another woman, I stood back and watched them slam shut in front of me. To add insult to injuring, the train sat at the platform for about 10 minutes with the doors shut before it departed.

The next train finally came, so I boarded, took my seat, and began to defrost. Again, the train sat at the platform for 10 minutes before we finally departed. Not long into the journey the train comes to stop, nowhere near the next station. The conductor comes on and makes an inaudible announcement and then the lights go out. We sit in the same spot in the dark for about 15 minutes before the conductor comes back on and makes another inaudible announcement, after which we start moving again, but in the wrong direction. The train begins to head back to the station we had just come from. The platform coming back into sight, I begin to wonder if it’s even worth it to continue all the way to Petworth. Luckily,  the train never went all the way back to the platform, but instead continued forward.

I finally show up to the office an hour late and severely under caffeinated. When I recount the morning’s events to my supervisor, I was met with laughter that brought him to tears. He did feel bad enough for me to buy me a rather large cup of coffee in an attempt to make my day just a little better.

Long story short, when the metro is functioning it can be a great way to get in and around the city, but when it’s having an off day avoid at all costs.