My name is Self-Appointed Expert, and this is my blog. It is part memoir, mostly fiction, and above all just trying to be funny. Some of is based on stuff that happened to me, some is based on stuff that happened to people I know, and a good deal is just entirely made up. So, if you find yourself offended, just remember - it's a joke. When you give me that look, it's a joke. Consider it my homage to the Secret Life of Walter Mitty, A Million Little Pieces, John Hodgman, and Christopher Guest.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Dang! We're in a tight spot!

This morning the DC metro flooded. About half the lines were closed. Not mine. DCMTA knew better, I guess.

My neighbors were another story: the station outside my apt was, in my opinion, excessively crowded. Although CNN had reporting all morning that the beltway was closed due to a mudslide, no one thought it worthwhile to clue in the locals to the heavy delays on the train, so everyone was out in full force. The result was that you'd walk past the bus stop, past the taxi stands, and trek down into the metro, business as usual, only to approach the platform and discover about 200 people crowding the gap. (On a busy morning, there's more like 10-20.) By the time you figured out that trains were running at every 10-15 min rather than every 1-2, it was too late for you to turn back. You were already part of the jam.

Suffice it to say that when the trains showed up, not everyone could fit. Really, only about 15 could make it on at our stop, as the train was already packed to the gills with commuters, bags, umbrellas, and hyperventilating claustrophobics. I didn't think I'd make it, and at first I didn't. But after the initial push, the train paused at the station, doors open, for about 3-4 minutes. I couldn't stand it - it was now or never. I crowded on.

I deflected the natural chagrin of my new, very intimate, commuter friends with a comment about how someone in the middle of our car had left a seat open. Instantly, I was accepted - I was a compatriot, equally inconvenienced and annoyed by all the idiots around us who were really just fooling themselves if they thought they were going to make it on this train. Somehow they forgot that only moments before, I, too, had been one of those idiots elbowing my way into their personal space. I made friends with a Pakistani man to my right. He congratulated me on my success. I smiled back, happy to have an ally.

The woman next to me was a middle aged blonde named Renee. I knew she was called Renee because she hung a name tag around her neck on a faded lanyard. She worked for the Peace Corps. She had probably been shot at, dehydrated, forced to fight off malaria and subsist off of grubs and rice staples for weeks on end - surviving only out of sheer force of will and her commitment to making the world a better place. On the train, however, she looked like she had met her match. Dejected, wilting, she shrunk further into the corner with every passing stop, complaining to a woman next to hear wearing a hijab that though she didn't have back problems, her back was hurting her now. Once I tripped and nearly crushed her when the train operator hit the accelerator a little too enthusiastically. I smiled, happy to give her a reason to sigh dejectedly.

Immediately in front of me was a clean cut intern with dark jellied hair and a tan, either new to law school or fresh from college. He was wearing a crisp white shirt, and as the train lurched the curve of his ass kept bumping up into my abdomen. I had to turn my face to the left (and alternately look up to the ceiling or down to her nametag to avoid staring directly at Renee), and brace my neck to resist the centrifugal force of the train's careening path through the tube - doing my best to keep my lips, my face, and my cheeks from rubbing up against his momentarily immaculate starched collar. I couldn't deny the sexual tension that developed between my midriff and his backside, but I didn't want him to get dumped on false pretences when he got home later that night.

Eventually the overflow of people reduced to trickle as we approached the heart of the city and progressively larger groups of commuters began to peal away at their respective destinations. The rain continued for most of the day; when it didn't rain, the air stayed dirty and wet.

I took the subway back home at the end of the day. This time I got a seat, but nothing to write about.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly how I feel every morning. Waiting at Park Street for the red line. Throngs of passengers, including me, cram onto the train when it finally arrives. I barely squeeze in. But now I'm one of the chosen few. I hate those people who try to get on at the next stop. There's no more room, I want to scream. Step back. The conductor is trying to close the doors, and you're making us all late. Don't give me those puppy eyes. There's no more room, and I'm not moving back, because then I won't have anything to hold onto. I'm not falling for that again. I'm always left standing in the middle when the music stops. So tough luck. It's every man, woman, and child for himself out here. Stay on the platform, and better luck with the next train. You should have known better than to live/work at the MGH stop.

8:38 PM


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