I started getting stressed in high school. It was a much tamer stress than the kind I experienced in college, and has snowballed into the stress that I have today. If something bothered me or was inconveniencing me, I dubbed it ‘inappropriate’. In high school, at the end of the day I would list the things that I found most inappropriate that day. The lists used to look something like this:

– AP Chemistry homework

– Surprise memorization tests in band

– Rebecca’s never-ending cute shoe collection (so jealous)

– People wearing costumes in the yearbook room

And to counteract that negativity, I usually followed the inappropriate things list by writing a list of things that were ‘happying’ me today. An average happy list looked like this:

– Didn’t get caught napping on the couch in English

– Passed off last week’s Pre-Calc homework for this week’s and got full credit

– Used my yearbook pass to go to two lunches

– It’s almost Friday

In college I didn’t really make lists, I just made my opinions verbal and responded to many comments from friends, classmates and yearbook staffers with a disgruntled, “That’s inappropriate.”

Staff Writer: “I can’t have my story in on time because I have homework to do and The Hills is on tonight.”
That’s inappropriate.

Prospective student on a tour: “What’s the girl to guy ratio here and where is the best place to pick up chicks?”
That’s inappropriate.

Anonymous: “You should come to the wheelbarrow races in my backyard this weekend.”
That’s inappropriate. And I’ll be there.

When I was working with middle schoolers last fall, everything was inappropriate. One scholar was a shining example of this, her name was Deja and I will never forget her. In a discussion about our upcoming trip to the National Portrait Gallery and its hall of presidents, Deja said in her fast-paced, sass-infused twang, “Is there a picture of President Bush there? Because if it is, I’mma take it down off the wall and stomp on it!” That is inappropriate.

Now that I have a real-person job and I commute with all kinds of adults, I have begun listing the inappropriate things I come across, because there are many. (For good measure, I still list things that are happying me too).

So, without further ado…

The things that I find most inappropriate this week:

1. Rolling briefcases (and suitcases, for that matter).
I understand the need for rolling suitcases in Union Station. I get it. You’re traveling. But walking perpendicularly through a steady stream of pedestrian traffic that just poured out of a commuter train is a terrible idea when you’re dragging 50 pounds of luggage on wheels behind you. When you stop to look at the arrivals and departures screen, yes your body is out of the way, but your suitcase is precariously occupying the four feet behind you. Commuters don’t look down in Union Station. It’s eat or be eaten. Run or be run over. And when a commuter is not looking down, he thinks he’s cleared the obstacle you’re creating, and then he trips over your suitcase. Inappropriate.

And briefcases on wheels. What in the world do you carry to work that you need 15 cubic feet of briefcase to hold it? Yes, mom, I know you have one for your giant laptop and we all thank you for avoiding mass transit with it (Mom drives to work). Just this morning in the metro station, I was on the escalator behind a woman who stopped on the right (thank you), put the collapsible handle on her enormous briefcase down, then picked it up and walked the rest of the way down the escalator. As I walked slightly behind her I was thinking how grateful I was for her adherence to escalator traffic rules. And then she stopped a the bottom of the escalator, took one step off, put her briefcase down, pulled the handle back up and then walked away, wheeling it behind her. Naturally the escalator dumped me off right into her during this ritual. Not only is this inappropriate, but the kicker is that the train was maybe 15 feet away. If she carried it down the escalator, couldn’t she carry it onto the train?

2. Overly enthusiastic metro drivers in the morning
I appreciate a metro driver who is audible and understandable over the speaker system. I also appreciate metro drivers who tell me why we’re stopped in a dark tunnel underground and when we will be moving. I sometimes even appreciate metro drivers thanking me for my patience, because sometimes I am being patient. But I did not appreciate the overzealous metro driver yesterday morning who shouted into his intercom like he was spinning hits at a New York Ave. night club. Even with my ipod ruining my eardrums, I could still hear him. It sounded like this:

“CUSTOMERRRSS!! THE NEXT STOP IS GALLERY PLACE CHINATOWN, YOUR TRANSFER POINT TO THE GREEEEEN AND YELLOOOOOW LIIIIIIINES!! THANK YOUR FOR RIDING METRO RAIL AND HAVE A GREAT DAY!”

It was awful. And inappropriate. I had to spend money on coffee and pastries on my way to work just to salvage the morning.

3. Rain in the forecast almost every day, but only raining on the weekend.
What gives?! I was at Shamrock Fest at RFK stadium Saturday and I knew it was going to rain. And it rained so much I thought I missed the memo to get on the Arc. But rain was in the forecast for Monday and Tuesday of this week too. I wore my rain boots to work expecting a torrential downpour or at least some puddles to jump, and the ground was barely wet. I find it inappropriate that a week day can be sunny and nearly 70 degrees, and I am barely outside. But a Saturday on which I have the privilege of spending hours outside listening to live music has to be soggy and cold. It’s just cruel.

With that out of my system, I can list a few things that are happying me so you don’t think I’m angry all the time.

Things that are happying me today:

1. I now have two newspaper guys. I always stop and chat with the Express distributor at Dupont metro because he is awesome and now knows my schedule. But until this week I routinely snubbed the Washington Examiner distributor, because I don’t usually read it. But now he is just as friendly and it’s like I have my own welcoming committee at the top of the escalator. It’s just a shame that I’m usually out of breath from walking up the steepest escalator in the metro system. (It might be the second steepest…but you get the point).

2. Chivalry is alive and well on the VRE. Gentlemen regularly let me on and off the train before them and they hold the stubborn heavy doors in the evening. For the record, they are nothing like Sugar Daddy.

3. Virginia Tech did not make it into the NCAA tournament (this is not happying me), but we are in the NIT and we’re playing at home tonight. It should be a fun one to watch with my fellow Hokies.

I hope that in the future I will have fewer and fewer things to add to the inappropriate list, but as long as I’m still commuting by planes, trains and automobiles every day, it’s unlikely.

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