Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Filed Under: Things That Only Happen to Me

I would like to start by pointing out that all three Metro incidents occurred within a 24-hour period.

Incident One:

Morning commute. 8:22.

A woman (mid-fifties, fuzzy pants, posh hippie, white) got on the train and sat down next to me. She tapped the (mid-forties, professionally dressed, African American) woman seated in front of her and said, "Dr. Dorothy Height died."

At first, I assumed the women were coworkers discussing a mutual acquaintance. However, when the African American lady looked at her in bafflement, the white woman clucked a little chirp of falsely compassionate condescension and said, "I'm sorry, maybe you've never heard of her, she was a major civil rights leader."

I can only assume that this lady had been circuiting the metro, tapping random black people and informing them of Ms. Height's death in some wildly misguided educational mission.

This makes me wonder if I should have made it a personal mission to track down every aging hipster in Washington to inform them of the death of Alex Chilton.

Incident Two:

Evening, headed home after a Target run.

A (rather substantial) woman sat down next to me, gradually inching her way into my space. By which I mean, her book was practically shoved under my nose (sidebar: she was reading lesbian erotica which used a honey metaphor at least three times per page).

When we came to my stop, I gathered my packages and said, "Excuse me." She sighed and tucked her legs to one side, clearly expecting me to clamber over her as if she were a Old Navy-clad jungle gym. I smiled brightly and said, "I'm carrying packages, and will need some more room please." She gave me a look of death, aggrieved at my expecting her to stand up like a person who lives in a society, and moved over another fraction of an inch.

I eventually struggled my way to freedom, but she may or may not have taken a shoe rack to the knees in the process.

Incident Three

Morning Commute, 8:19 am

A woman boarded the train, and in a calm, clear voice said, "Could I get everyone's attention please?" I assumed she was either selling something or off her rocker, so I kept my nose buried in my newspaper.

After a moment, she began to explain that God had woken her up early that morning (really, God is her alarm clock) and called upon her to testify to commuters. The gist was standard street preacher - repent now, find Jesus, cast off Satan, Jesus is awesome, repent or you're gonna die. (Bad form to mention impending death on the Metro, btw.)

This struck me as being a tad intrusive, but, moreover, pretty dang ineffective. Commuters are professionals at creating their own private worlds. Hey, if we can't even recognize a world-class violinist* before coffee, there's no way we're going to recognize the onset of Armageddon.

In the comments, tell me about your favorite Metro weirdo.

*For the record, I frickin' hate that article. I don't think Pulitzers should be given for an article that could have been summed up as, "People on their way to work tend to be in a hurry." And, moreover, the condescending "People have sad lives because they didn't stop for music" thing is way overdone and insulting. People have jobs and obligations and mouths to feed, and as much as we'd like to enjoy a little music, we gotta be on time for work.


Jenny said...

Ugh, at least 700 people emailed me that stupid Joshua Bell article. "Hey! You play the violin! Here's something about violins that is in Teh Newspapers! I bet no one else thought to send this to you, and obviously you're too out of it to find it yourself!!!"

Lemon Gloria said...

Due to a combination of my walking commute and either walking or driving with the kid, I almost never take metro anymore. But next time I do, I'd like to coordinate with you, because you're more of a crazy magnet than I. I used to take the 30 buses a lot, and the yellers always wanted my attention, no matter how far away we were seated from each other.

Shannon said...

Jenny - So, did you hear about this Joshua Bell guy with a violin?

LG - We should totally Metro-pool and see who gets the most crazies!

lacochran said...

You heard he just got another Pulitzer, right?

And I've blogged about a variety of Metro crazies myself.

When people are yelling I sometimes have such a strong urge to yell right back at them. Just to see what they'd do. Ah, the stuff of daydreams...

Titania said...

haha... I think #2 was really trying to feel you up...

Shannon said...

Lacochran - Right as the woman told us to find Jesus, the woman in front of me starting rummaging in her handbag. I almost asked, "Are you looking for Jesus?"

Titania - Personally, I think she had a shoe rack fetish.

Bateshorn said...

#1 On the orange line from PG into the city, I've gotten the Street Sense guy at least 3 times. He does a very eloquent job of pitching Street Sense, and has about the richest baritone voice I've ever heard. I always want to say: "listen, I don't want Street Sense, but you wouldn't happen to know a little Mozart by chance."

#2 On same said O-line, late one night after many beers, headed out to PG, a mixed group of riders got on at Eastern Market and proceeded to have a dice game, on the floor of the train, with real money, and not small amounts either. Being drunk and stupid, I watched with interest from a few rows away. At Minnesota Ave, two metro cops got on and ordered the game ended and half the kids to get off at Deanwood. AFter the riders backtalked, the cops put hands on guns and the whole affair went from funny to scary in a blink of an eye.


Alice said...

an older-middle-aged white woman got on, and a very cute young black man offered her his seat. she started SCREAMING at him (no one could tell exactly what she was saying / why she was so upset) until she got off at the next stop.

also, just an fyi? doing little flips using the overhead rail thingies in the car? apparently that's "illegal." um.. so i.. heard. from someone else. yeah.

Shannon said...

Bateshorn - You didn't want to join the game? Though, truthfully, I don't know how to play any dice games but Three-Man. Which I would happily teach to a group of teenagers. Which may be why it's a good thing I don't have kids.

Alice - Maybe the young guy asked when she was due?

The Baltimore Chop said...

"Who the hell is Alex Chilton?"

Just A Girl said...

Oh my god. It's times like these that I'm glad I drive to work. That first one is so painfully awkward I can't even stand it. Who on earth thinks that's ok?