After being under the weather for a few days, I’ve slowly returned to my normal life this week. And you know what I realized? The world kept moving forward even when I wasn’t paying attention to it. It’s a little disconcerting actually. But at the same time, the brief respite was nice. It was nice not to watch the news and know what was going on outside our little home. But I caught up quickly enough, unfortunately.
It happened last night when the CPA called on his way to school to let me know that there was a delay on the red line of D.C’s Metro system. (Thank you to those of you who made sure we were okay yesterday.) I wouldn’t have thought much about it as such delays are not uncommon, but I happened to catch the news so I knew that it was something serious – they reported that there had been an accident on one of the trains. What I didn’t realize, was the extent of the accident.
I’m so heartbroken to see the news reports and to hear as details of the tragedy unfolds. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, one of the city Metro trains ran into another train that had stopped on the tracks. So far, nine people have been confirmed dead. It’s the largest subway tragedy that this area has seen.
As is inevitable when something so awful happens so close to home, it becomes a topic of conversation around town. In fact, I was talking to the CPA about it this morning as he was getting ready to leave for work. He admitted that the whole thing had shaken him. He was on another part of the red line when he learned about the accident. He said that he sometimes thinks about the possibility of terrorists or explosions on the train, but rarely does he think that they will be involved in an accident. So it hit him hard, as I’m sure it did many people.
It reminds me of how I felt a couple of years ago after the train and bus bombings in London. For days afterward, I obsessively watched the news coverage trying to understand how something like that could happen. I think I wanted to find a guarantee that what happened so far away from us could never happen here. Because if I thought otherwise, I would never be able to ride the train again. And since I used to ride the Metro daily to get to and from work, that would cause a serious problem.
Riding a subway is tough enough without the extra worry of accidents and terrorist plots. For one thing, there’s the whole claustrophobia issue. When you get on during the busy times, you usually find yourself sandwiched between at least five other people who are all vying for the best grip on the handrail. There’s not like there is a lot of room to move around and once you’re on, you’re on. And don’t even get me started on all of the germs. Let’s just say that a subway car is not the cleanest place in the world. I seriously doubt they are ever thoroughly cleaned, come to think of it.
And you may not know this, but there is a definite subway etiquette that must be followed when riding the Metro. Everyone looks straight ahead and pretends not to notice the person standing five inches in front of them. Most people read a book or listen to their iPods. A few bring knitting and still others simply take a nap. Taking a nap is easy to do because it is quiet, so very quiet. In fact, it’s almost comical to watch when tourists get on with their families and friends. They are laughing and carrying on while the rest of the regulars stare at them with carefully guarded disdain.
So yes, riding the subway is a tough enough, without all the added worries about accidents and possible threats. But for most of us, it’s either take a half hour Metro ride to work or sit on the freeway for two hours. And that’s before you pay $14.95 a day for city parking. This just means that for many city commuters, not riding the Metro is really not an option at all.
Would you be nervous to take the subway after there has been an accident or another problem?
Picture compliments of wikipedia