I have seen the low point of humanity. I am a daily commuter in the District of Columbia.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the D.C. area has officially beaten L.A. for the much coveted title of Worst Traffic in the United States. On average, D.C. commuters waste about 74 hours (or, essentially, the equivalent of two full work weeks) each year stuck in bumper-to-bumper-stop-and-go hell. So, while I wake up on weekdays excited and thankful for my job, I can’t help but dread my long journey from the suburbs to the city. On good days it takes me about 1.5 hours to get to the office, but on bad days it takes 2 hours (bleh). Before you judge the nutty woman in the video below, just remember that she’s most likely wasted months and months of her life in horrible traffic and shaky public trains. If you consistently traveled more than you slept each day, you too would ramble to yourself in public. Just saying.
Obviously, human beings were not meant to sit in traffic or stand close together on speeding trains. Such conditions bring out the worst in even the most patient and saintly of men. People tend to suck when they are 1) crabby first thing in the morning OR 2) anonymous behind the wheel of their car, safely hidden from the poor souls they are tailing and cutting off. Combine those two conditions together and you get a competitive, positively Darwinian situation. Therefore, to remain strong you must evolve and adapt. You must obey the rules.
The Unofficial, Unacknowledged (but VERY True) Commandments of D.C. Public Transportation:
- Avoid eye contact at all costs.
- Wear strong deodorant. No exceptions. At some point you will inevitably raise your arm to hang on to a ceiling pole on the metro and, inevitable, someone’s face will be unsuitably positioned.
- Metro doors are NOT elevator doors. If you shove your briefcase in to them as they close, they will not magically open. They will actually malfunction and then everyone on the train will have to exit…and they will know it was your fault. They just will.
- Never let a pregnant woman stand on the metro. Ever.
- Escalator law: right side stands, left side walks. How hard is that?
- If, by some odd chance, you just happen to be seated across from two strange women who are awkwardly fighting over elbow room, try very hard not to laugh. If you burst out laughing (and…I’m not saying I’ve done this or anything…), then everyone around you might follow…and you might cause the two strange ladies to form an alliance and turn against the entire car. Oops…
- Do NOT be an annoying free rider. Make sure that your SmarTrip card actually deducts money before your busily scoot through the already open barrier.
- Do NOT roll your eyes at Metro Knitters. They are awesome. Do not judge them. They are brave.
- Keep your music to yourself. Invest in quality headphones that do not pollute the silence around you. People are sleeping and they do not want to listen to that Justin Bieber Christmas song.
- There is always someone who has a commute that’s worse than yours, so stop whining! (You know, like what I’ve been doing this entire post…)
I have far more to share on this subject, but (ironically) I need to hit the road and face the early morning traffic on Route 66 East…Oh dear.