This morning, I had the pleasure of taking my Metro ride with a young man who had his iPod set to “stun.” They aren’t called everybodyPods, so really only one person should be able to hear the music. I spent a few stops being assaulted by thudding bass, emphatic shrieking, and repeated use of the words, “bitch” and “ho.”
Normally, I glower at the everybodyPodder, change seats, and sulk. But today was different. I can’t blithely ignore misogyny before I’ve had my coffee, even if it does have a catchy beat. So I used my Brain Scrambler technique.
The Brain Scrambler is a method I use to get my way. I tell the person to knock off whatever behavior is annoying me, but am so cheerful and pleasant that the person becomes confused and instantly complies.
“Excuse me, could you turn your music down? It’s really very loud!”
He shot me a momentary look of confusion, then fiddled with a few knobs and reduced the sound to a dull roar. (“Dull roar” means that I am now officially my mother.) I spent the next few stops in blissful near-silence.
He stood up at Metro Center, and cranked the music right back up as soon as he was five feet away from me. This caused a few chuckles among nearby passengers.
I spent the next few stops chatting with a man a few seats away, who was amazed the everybodyPodder had heard me in the first place. (I had contemplated making a little sign saying, “Your music is too loud!” if he hadn’t heard my initial request.) We discussed not wanting to pay for that young man’s hearing aids in ten years, and that more people should speak up when they encounter rudeness on the Metro.
So, readers, I have deputized myself to be a Metro Etiquette Vigilante. Care to join me? Or, you could be a You Kids, Get Off My Lawn Metro Rider, or a Tsk Tsk Shame On You Metro Rider. The Metro needs more people who are obnoxious enough to correct the rudeness of others. Please practice the following phrases:
“Your music is really very loud, could you please turn it down?”
“Could you please not lean against the pole? Other people need to use it.”
“Excuse me, could you please stand up so I don’t have to climb over you to exit the train?”
“Excuse me, could you please not block the door?”
“Hi! Welcome to DC! The left side is the passing lane, it’s for people who prefer to walk up the escalators. Thanks!”
But use the Brain Scrambler technique when you do it. The idea is to be cheerful, not at all imperious, and completely polite as you tell people that the world does not in fact revolve around them. Don't argue, don't engage, simply make your request.
Metro is already unpleasant, with the hiked-up fares, endless delays, and “sick passengers.” We can’t do anything about the passengers who are sick, but we can do something about the ones who suck.