Okay, this isn’t about a book, or a movie, or anything that has to do with entertainment. This is about…public transportation.
I don’t take the Metro very often, for the simple reason that I live in a mass transit dead zone and the closest station is twenty minutes away. By car. So, approximately four thousand minutes away by foot. This morning, though, my carpool was pooling elsewhere (bitches had a doctor’s appointment), so one of my roommates very graciously offered to drop me off at the Metro so that I could drag ass into work more or less on time (I was *only* twenty minutes late). The morning started off most auspiciously, with me managing to pour water all over my lap so it looked like I peed myself–also, I bumped my head on the top of the car on the way out the door. Graceful! The Metro itself was…well, it was about what you’d expect.
Don’t get me wrong: people who bitch about the DC Metro need to get over themselves, because although it’s crowded and busted and the Metro “authorities” are usually goblins, it could be worse. The Paris Metro, for example, always smells very strongly of urine. Goblins…or urine. Goblins…or urine. Personally, I’ll take the goblins any day. Also, the DC Metro averages less than one complete nutjob per day trip (night is an entirely different playing field, obviously), and those odds are comparable to what you’ll find on the Asheville city bus system. And Asheville is like, a sleepy little town full of accordian-playing hippies–not exactly a hotbed of psychosis.
Truly, the DC Metro is a really decent system–except for the goblins. They are, really, the worst part about dealing with the whole thing. This morning, for example, I was using an old fare card to get through the turnstiles (“If it still has over three bucks on it, why buy another?” I foolishly reasoned), and I got rejected on the way out of Foggy Bottom. Re-jected. Re. Jected. I am not the kind of girl who typically gets chided for insufficient funds, so I was a little discombobulated by the whole thing. By which I mean, I totally had no fucking clue what was going on. “Ma’am,” the station manager finally had to say, “You need to go put more money on that fare card.”
“Oh, but I have this other one,” I said, all innocence. “Can’t I just use that?”
“No. Put more money on the card.”
Well, all right then. Since the guy had actually spoken to me in complete sentences without sighing or rolling his eyes once (a miracle!), I took it in stride and moseyed over to the machine. I stuck in my farecard. I inserted a dollar bill. And…the machine spat out four quarters and threw up my card. “Okay, fine,” I shrugged, putting in another one of my fare cards and shoveling quarters into the machine. Same deal. “Ask station manager for assistance,” it blinked at me. I began to be seriously annoyed; I may have even stomped my foot like a three-year-old. Okay, I totally stomped my foot like a three-year-old. And cursed the fact that’d I’d worn flats instead of my big, more satisfyingly stompy combat boots. I never claimed to have good anger management skills, okay? Anyway, I took my fare cards and my four quarters and tried to go through the damn turnstiles again. Nothing. I sighed, and manned up to the fact that I would just have to–shudder–speak to some of the Metro workers lounging around the exit. Since that one guy who was vaguely polite to me earlier was among the crowd, I zeroed in on him. “Excuse me, sir,” I said timidly, “But the machine rejected my money and the turnstile won’t let me through.” He grunted, took my card, then handed it back to me and told me to go through. Aaaaand…the turnstile promptly told me to go see the station manager again. I sighed, but the station workers just shook their heads impatiently at me.
“Go through, ma’am,” they said, clearly trying to restrain themselves from beating my stupid head in.
Wonder of wonders, I…actually made it through. Without actually adding any money to my fare card. Like, for serious. After all that, I paid…exactly what was on my card to begin with. Yeah. So, as far as I can tell, subway systems run mostly off the irritation of their customers–which makes sense, considering what shitholes most of them are. But, since the DC Metro isn’t really all that innately irritating, it really has to WORK to piss you off. Which is why there was that to-do with my fare card. The powers that be were all, “Oh, yeah, she looks like she peed herself, and that’s annoying–but that’s her own clumsy fault, not ours. Also, it happened in a car, so no dice. Plus, a train was literally sitting right there when she got down into the station this morning, so she didn’t have to wait at all, and she got on at the first fucking stop, so she got to sit the whole way. Clearly, this trip was way too easy. If she doesn’t grind her teeth with exhausted rage at least once, how will we generate the electricity necessary to power this contraption through the gates of hell to the Smithsonian? Quickly! Let us fuck with her exit fare!”
As I raced up the escalator and into the frigid cold (so pleasant when your butt’s still wet, by the way), I felt as if I’d paid my tithe to hell.
Can we work on this whole teleportation technology? Like, really?