My Monday morning metro ride was just rudely interrupted by a very nice man in a pin stripe suit who would not stop talking to me. I unfortunately left the house this morning with no reading material and had to look intently focused on my phone.

So he chooses to use my phone as a jumping off point for a 30 minute dull conversation about Google v. Apple, Verizon v. AT&T, Ohio v. DC. I thought I was making it clear that I did not care to continue to talk with him. I answered politely but curtly, but short of saying “please stop talking to me,” what was I supposed to do?

He was one of the more normal, nicer strangers I’ve spoken to on the metro, so I continued politely, curtly answering his questions until he asked my name as his stop approached and handed me his business card. There was a gold embossed seal above the classically stamped “Department of State” which he proceeded to tell me was 24k gold. No no, he’s just kidding.

He shook my hand and told me to have a good Monday, and a good week at that probably because he wasn’t sure he’d see me again this week… go figure.

Must go to the library soon for a new book and resume habitual use of the stranger-blocking ipod.

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And how is this for timeliness after yesterday’s harrowing story?

A Washington Post article today says “63 to 69 as of this week, depending on the day, or about 11 percent of the total of 588” escalators are experiencing outages and general chronic failure.

Please, read on.

I feel like bucking the norm and going in reverse order,so mishap first:

Truth be told I’m having a hard time calling this one a mishap for a variety of reasons, none of which I can manage to verbalize at this time. I’ll call it just another metro-related unfortunate event that nearly sent me flying to my death.

Okay that was a bit of an exaggeration.

I was jogging up the escalator at the Dupont metro Tuesday morning at my new, increased, nearly heart-stopping pace when I looked up to see the top in close sight and felt a twinge of relief and accomplishment. Almost as soon as I completed that thought, the metro gods chuckled and decided to spite me.

By screeching the escalator to a grinding halt.

Thankfully I’ve begun making the wise decision to keep one hand free for handrail grasping, because that was my first successful survival move. Then, I had lurched forward mid-step with enough momentum that I was able to skip a step and land safely above the one that was threatening to trip me mercilessly. That was success number two. Then I looked back down at the vast stretch of escalator below me to make sure that everyone else was still upright, which they were, though they looked frazzled and perterbed to now be stranded in the middle of a giant, immobile escalator. But I made it off the dying beast with little further injury, and I count this as a third success.

Oh, and it only stopped, it didn’t rapid reverse (thank you for showing some restraint metro gods) so I count that as a fourth success of the morning. I have to take what I can get, alright?

I count this post as part one in a three-part series in the hopes that a cliff hanger will encourage me to come back to post again soon. In the name of keeping a 2010 resolution, stay tuned.

I’m reporting live from a train pulling out of the Vienna station to bring you an urgent message:

I just encountered a nice person. In the morning. On the metro platform.

I know you’re thinking that breed doesn’t exist and that crowded rush hour metro stations tend to be an every man for himself situation.

Well

I was standing close to the edge of the platform waiting for the next train while a crowd gathered behind, around and far too close to me. After a few minutes I looked up from my Thomson Reuters app to find that the crowd had shifted to the other side of the platform and that a train was arriving there rather than right in front of me.

I resigned to the fact that I would not be getting my ideal seat (it’s the perfect one for reading or sleeping) and made my way to the back of the eager, impatient crowd on the other side of the platform.

Then the man in front of me turned around and offered me the space in front of him, just on the edge of the platform. I briefly wondered if I’d inadvertently stepped on him or cut him off or did something to make him want to push me on the tracks. Then he said:

You were in the front before… if you’d like to move up. It’s dog eat dog out here, you gotta be on your game sometimes!

What a nice man. I declined politely, stating in jest that he earned his spot and he should enjoy it. But the whole thing just made me happy.

The sunshine and need to take off my jacket was also a huge bonus.

And I still got my favorite seat, which it turns out is good for reading, sleeping, and blogging.

Happy Thursday

I am very excited to update after a bit of a dry spell which I promised wouldn’t happen this year…

Many times I have witnessed something so enjoyable during my metro travel that I wished I could share it right that minute. I blame the time lapse between my commute and my computer accessibility for my lack of posts lately… really, I swear it’s not laziness.

Well I’m happy to say that thanks to my recent discovery of the wordpress for android app I will be able to liveblog my random moments of excitement as they happen. I know you’re excited too.

Maybe it will also help me get better at typing on this phone…

We all know it snowed a ridiculous amount (twice) last week. DC just didn’t know how to handle it. The federal government closed for many days, and when it reopened last Friday a red line train derailed and Connecticut Ave NW completely shut down. Of course I wouldn’t know because I escaped to the desert.

Phoenix, Arizona is the best place — perhaps besides a tropical destination — to go to escape a snow dump like we had last week. That is, if you can get a flight out. We flew out of Dulles around 5:30 p.m. last Thursday – the runway was still largely covered in packed snow and ice and still being plowed. It was intense.

Well my return to work yesterday was treacherous and it was a rude awakening from the 75 degrees and sunny dream I’d been living for a few days. Thankfully I didn’t do my usual metro ride, so I eased back into the grind slowly. Instead I hitched a ride up the beltway to Bethesda and took a short metro ride from there to work. I don’t necessarily fault DC for not clearing sidewalks since there really is no place for all the snow to go, and you can only dump so much under the Wilson Bridge. But I really felt like I could have used some ice climbing shoes when I was walking from the metro.

I almost started to envy those people that drive to work. At least you get to see the outside world on your way to work instead of traveling under ground in an unheated train wondering if at any moment you might leave the track. And, I don’t know how far away from work you park, but you probably don’t have to hike many sidewalk glaciers. Yes, getting to work is dangerous.

But the good news is that I’ve been watching a lot of winter Olympics. I’ve been picking up tips on surviving winter sports (such as sidewalk walking), like:

  • Wear neon spandex, a helmet and goggles — that metrobus headed for the sidewalk may not hit you if you look like a traffic cone. And if it does hit you, at least you have skull and eye protection.
  • Grow your red curly hair long for warmth (note: this can also help the traffic cone effort).
  • Ski poles are good for traction and for angrily poking that annoying person who’s on your heels.
  • The Olympic fanfare (composed by John Williams!) is very catchy.

The Olympic fanfare is so catchy and I enjoy it so much, in fact, that it has been stuck in my head for days. It comes in really handy when it’s on repeat in my head as I finally approach work after surviving the adventures of icy sidewalks.

I feel like a champion.

But I resist the urge to throw my hands in the air in triumph.

Today, in order to sate the daunting beast that is their [almost] $189 million budget gap, the Metro board voted to approve a 10-cent fare hike.

[read here]

I would just like to say thank you to the Metro board for choosing fare hikes over service cuts. If there were going to be fewer trains with fewer cars running less frequently than there are right now, I would start seriously investigating teleportation as a means of travel.

Because a decreased budget deficit for Metro is not worth the spike in insanity claims among Metro patrons that would result from having to stand on even more crowded platforms and squish into sweatier armpits on even more crowded trains.

And 10 cents for four months is just pocket change.

And no, I don’t want to think ahead to when fares undoubtedly go up again in July.

It’s likely I’ll also consider that pocket change.