DC Metro: Nah, I’d Rather Walk. Or Stay Home.

Despite the fact that Metro is the worst, people are constantly telling me that I’m too harsh. Of course, these people are usually tourists or non-commuters, who then tell me that the train worked just fine when they went to that one Nats game that one time, or how when they visited DC it was so easy to get the museums. These people are wrong. Metro is a poorly maintained, poorly run, and overpriced debacle. The small annoyances are so typical I barely think to complain about them: unheated or unbearably overheated cars, constant delays, trains that don’t show up, 19 minute waits for the train you need. The larger annoyances sometimes grab attention, but it takes a death to make a big splash. On Monday of this week, a yellow line train on the DC Metro stopped 800 feet from the station it had just departed and filled with smoke. Passengers sat in the increasingly hot train for about an hour, breathing in the smoke and being told to not open the doors. When paramedics finally showed up, one woman was dead and over 80 needed hospitalization. Monday was not an isolated incident; it was just an example of how inefficient and incompetent Metro is.

It is ridiculously expensive to take Metro for the quality of the service you get. Speaking as someone who frequently pays the extra money to take Amtrak to Alexandria instead of Metro, I’m fine paying more for efficiency.  Metro runs on a system that requires you swipe your card when boarding and then again when exiting, running prices on a sliding scale based on distance. To get from the heart of the city to Franconia-Springfield is $5.75; if it was my daily commute, that would total $16.35 for round trip and $4.85 parking (interestingly, the stations in Prince George’s County are $5.10 — despite being far less crowded). Doesn’t WMATA have a responsibility to make using Metro worth $16.35, or at least make Metro convenient enough that you’re fine leaving the comfort of your car? You’d think.

Dupont South, from http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/
Dupont South, from http://unsuckdcmetro.blogspot.com/

Paying $16.35 a day, would you expect to have to hike up 188 foot long escalator? If you’re a Washingtonian, the answer is “yes.” The DuPont South escalator is the worst. The escalators at all stations are constantly out, and sometimes the elevators are too. Are you disabled? Metro doesn’t appear to give a shit about you.

Maybe if you were one of the passengers stranded just steps from L’Enfant Plaza, you’d think that you were entitled to just get the hell out of the station once you were being evacuated.  Nope! I know it isn’t typically the most reliable source, but people reported on Twitter that they were still forced to scan their card and wait for the exit to open for each evacuee (the same person said she told the news and they didn’t report on it).

On Monday, the smoke in the train was caused by arcing.  While it produced a massive amount of smoke, it didn’t cause a fire. Of course, people on the train don’t know this. As usual, Metro didn’t tell the passengers the information they needed (and deserved) to know. The one thing they did communicate was to stay in the train — despite being only 800 feet from the station/freedom. Even though all of the emergency signs say to exit on the side of the tunnel where the lights are (away from the electric third rail), passengers weren’t allowed to exit, and the firefighters couldn’t figure out if the third rail was on or off to get to the victims. But this makes a lot more sense when you look at Metro’s Standard Operating Procedures and realize that….they don’t actually have a plan.

6.5.3.4.  If the Train Operator was not able to reverse from the heavy smoke, the ROCC Supervisor shall:  6.5.2.4.1. FUCKING PANIC
6.5.3.4. If the Train Operator was not able to reverse from the heavy smoke, the ROCC Supervisor shall:
6.5.3.4.1. ???????????????????????????

You’d think that Metro would put into their rules what they would do when there is a lot of smoke, since this isn’t a new problem.  According to WMATA, arcing insulators occur about twice a month, though IMO that number seems like it’s low. The day after the L’Enfant Plaza incident, sparks and smoke were reported at the Gallery Place stop. All locals remember in 2013, when a  Green Line train had a problem with arcing — and everyone was told to spend hours stuck in the trains, without power. Riders started to “rebel” by self evacuating. Not only did Metro not approve, they wondered if they could arrest people for freeing themselves. What. The. Fuck.

To be fair, “sit still and do as we say” is the only way Metro has to handle any situation. In July 2012 a train lost power and passengers were told to hang tight…on a 90 degree, muggy DC summer day. Not in a tunnel. While the passengers say they exited after being told to do so by the conductor, Metro claimed that passengers were responsible for being forced to sit so long. Even though the “rescue” train also lost power before the pax self evacuating, apparently the passengers were to blame.

Elevator repair: blocking off the elevator for 6 months and taking breaks.
Escalator repair: blocking off the escalator for 6 months and taking breaks.

Now the union representing the transit people is on Twitter, holding a Q&A…and getting an earful. They linked to a useful PDF about why we shouldn’t privatize the system because people will lose jobs.  In reality,  illiteracy, drug use, and prior convictions run rampant in the staff currently employed by the system…as does extreme overpayment. Anytime you’re interested in a good laugh (or cry), just search Twitter for #wmata so you can see the day’s misery. And remember: it’s DC, so if you’re an American…this is your tax dollars at work!

To read about other things that piss me off, you can find me on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to my blog. 

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I Hate Flying So Much I Cannot Even

Airports are like malls: it’s scientifically proven the second you step foot in either of these buildings, you immediately lose 15 IQ points. There isn’t much I hate more than flying. It’s probably the only thing I both despise and routinely subject myself to. I don’t mind the actual experience of being in the plane, it’s just every other aspect of flying.

How I solve my flying woes
How I solve my flying woes

TSA Precheck
Thanks to all the hours I have dedicated to being in the sky, I usually get Precheck — I’m allowed to leave my laptop and liquids in my bag, and I don’t have to take off my shoes. Seems great, right? Too bad some genius decided to grant Precheck to two kinds of people: those of us who fly all of the time, and really, REALLY old people who have no idea WTF is going on. What a great plan! Combine the most efficient flyers with the most inefficient flyers, and put them all in a special line together!! It’s embarrassing for one group, and frustrating for the other.

Overhead Bins + Late Arrival = Meltdown
There are two reasons I board the plane immediately: one, so I can have overhead bin space. Two, so I can sit in my seat and sip on a gin and tonic while watching my fellows passengers have total fucking mental breakdowns when their luggage won’t fit, instead of standing behind them. Without my calming cocktail, I will definitely run commentary.  Also, no, you cannot take other people’s shit out of the bins to make yours fit. I sincerely wish I was a thief so I could steal shit from people who put their bags at the front of the plane, no where near their seat. Good job, asshole. Now you’re blocking space for people sitting in the section your shit is in.

If you’re a frequent flyer, you check your bag for free. If you are a once a year vacationer, just pony up the $50 round trip and check a single bag for your entire family. Or — and this is going to be shocking advice — if you have a rolling suitcase, make sure it isn’t fucking huge. And hasn’t everyone at some point done a puzzle? Why do people insist on putting luggage in the bins in a way that takes up the most possible space? Oh, probably because they are the same selfish people that are guilty of….

Blatant Disregard for Personal Space
Oh I see you really like to BE IN ALL OF THE SEATS. Or you really like to talk to me. Or you like to put your feet fucking everywhere. Have you tried taking up only ONE seat? Have you tried not talking to me? Or maybe putting your feet under the seat in front of YOU, and not the seat in front of ME?

Middle seat, IMO, gets priority to the armrests. Even if you don’t agree with me, the human in the middle seat isn’t a post for you to lean on. GO AWAY.

DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?!
This is the worst person at the airport — at least I can chalk a lot of people’s behavior up to not knowing WTF is going on at the airport. But the DYKWIA person…they make sure you know they fly. Do I know who you are? Yes. You are a fucking asshole. BYE FELICIA.  And since I am so young and yet fly so often (and I don’t ever dress up to fly, because f that), I feel like the DYKWIAs really just gravitate toward me. I’m constantly being told by other customers that I’m in the wrong line, whether it’s check in or boarding. I’m sorry, did you get your elite status because you volunteer as the fucking line police for the airline?  Fuck. You.

Last December my best friend and I went to Miami together. We got a complimentary upgrade to first class for the return FLL – DCA flight. They called for first to board, so we…went to board. My ticket was scanned without problems, and then suddenly this dude just barreled past my friend and shoves his ticket in the GAs hand.
GA: Sir, what are you doing?
DYKWIA: I’M FIRST CLASS.
GA: So is she [points to my friend].
DYKWIA: Oh. Oh. Go ahead.
My Friend: No, it’s okay. You can go.
Meanwhile, I’m just standing there watching all this happen thinking what the fuck is wrong with people. WE WERE STANDING IN THE FIRST CLASS/ELITE LINE. I’ll be damned if I’m trading in my standard flying attire of cowboy boots and leggings so people don’t act like assholes to me.

Then there is the credit card holder DYKWIA. This person doesn’t actually fly often, but they do pay $95 a year in fees and a high APR to get some of the perks of frequent flying. When I moved to Dallas, I bought a one way first class ticket for about $300 — it was cheaper to do it that way and get 3 free checked bags than it was to book the regular fare and pay for my 3 bags ($25, $35, and $150, respectively). There I am, the day after Christmas, hungover out of my mind, hiding behind a big fluffy coat and sunglasses, moving halfway across the country to a city where I don’t know anyone. This dude with his family is in front of me in line to board the plane, and the GA takes his boarding pass and says, “I’m sorry, sir — we’re only boarding first class pax now.” The man proceeded to lose his fucking mind. I shit you not, he actually said, “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?! I HAVE A CREDIT CARD WITH YOUR AIRLINE.  I GET TO BOARD EARLY.” The GA agreed that yes he did, but after first class. “SO BECAUSE I DIDN’T PAY ALL OF THAT MONEY FOR FIRST I CAN’T GET ON THE PLANE NOW?” And then he pointed at me! Poor, hungover, trying not to vomit on him, me.
DYKWIA: Did you buy a first class ticket?!
Me: Yes.
DYKWIA:  BUYING A FIRST CLASS TICKET IS STUPID.
Me: Paying an annual credit card fee is stupid.
I don’t think I helped the situation, but I got to go sit down in my stupid seat…and no one asked me to sign up for the CC on my flight.

Lap Children AKA Feet in YOUR Lap Children or Floor Children
What a cute baby you have! He’s so big for his age. I’m so glad that on this 3 hour flight you’ve decided to keep him on your lap even though he doesn’t fit and is blatantly too big. It have never, ever been stuck next to a lap child, but I have definitely seen them next to others when the child was too big for a lap. In fact, the first time I went to Dallas, I went on vacation with my best friend (we travel). We got stuck because Sandy shut down the DC airports, and were able to manage two spots on the first post-Sandy flight out of DFW. My poor best friend got stuck next to a lap child that was way too big for his  mother’s lap, with the child’s entire head hanging over onto my friend’s lap. Taking into account the storm situation, and because she is a saint, she didn’t say anything to anyone. I would have lost my fucking mind.

Before you bring a lap child on a plane, think about whether you really want to sit with a child on your lap for hours. You fucking don’t. How do I know? Because I have seen children who were clearly too old (2) be forced to be lap kids, and they end up spending their time running amok or playing on the floor or bothering other pax. Look, you have a kid and that’s cool. I don’t want to talk to you or your child. Just get them a fucking seat of their own.

Gate Lice
Do you think if you get on the plane first, something magical happens? Do you think that the first people on the plane get free hookers and cocaine? Do you think you get an award because you’re zone 5 and you got on the plane with zone 1? Do you think they don’t let you on if you’re not crowded around the gate? No? Then why are you crowding the gate when you’re in the last zone to board?  Look, just back the fuck off until you’re supposed to be boarding. “Oh, they said they’re starting to board anyone who needs assistance!! Better go make my presence known at the gate since I’m in zone 6! Six sounds like I’ll be first, right?!” NO. All you’re doing is being in the way of everyone who is supposed to get on the plane before you. At least wait until the zone before you is being called, instead of jumping 7 steps ahed.

THIS IS YOUR FAULT
Flights get delayed, plans get changed. It sucks, I know. Lost luggage, canceled flights, hours on the tarmac — I’ve been there, it blows. But do you know who isn’t responsible for any of those things? The person you’re interacting with at the airport. You know that dreaded moment when you’re on the plane, waiting to go, and then they decide to deplane? Suddenly your fellow pax think they’re in the Hunger Games, using their lap children and giant rolling suitcases as weaponary to push others out of the way, all in the quest to be the first person to talk to the GA. Since I don’t carry more than a bookbag, I usually make it off the plane pretty early. Not too long ago I was third in line after a deplaning. Only one GA was working to reschedule us, and the people directly in front of me were, quite frankly, evil. It was a man and his teenage daughter, and they were BOTH loudly complaining about how inconvenienced they were, how slow and bad at her job the GA was (they kept pointing at her!), and how they were NEVER FUCKING FLYING US AIRWAYS AGAIN. Everything was said loudly, and the GA and every other person in a 20  foot radius heard them. They were pretty much running their own sitcom routine, except not funny. It took almost all of my strength to not record them. Instead, I behaved like a normal, rational person and looked up another flight on American that would get me where I needed to be.  Like, is it rocket science to realize that being an asshole will get you nowhere, and being responsible and polite and presenting a solution will get you to your destination faster?

I have to go take a Xanax now. I’m upset just thinking about it, and I don’t even have to fly again for like 2 more weeks.

My unimpressed flying face.
My unimpressed flying face.

Don’t Date a Self Centered Blogger Who Has Traveled

Why do I click on links posted on Facebook? Why do I read Huffington Post? I keep learning how I’ve been doing life all wrong. Thank God so many girls are telling me how to handle traveling, so I can fix it before I go to Colombia.

Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels
I should have known from the title that nothing good was going to come from this.

She’s the one with the messy, unkempt hair colored by the sun. Her skin is now far from fair like it once was. Not even sun kissed. It’s burnt with multiple tan lines, wounds and bites here and there.

Or she’s from, I don’t know, California or Florida or some other sunny place. I guess if you travel to colder climates, you don’t count. Sorry, Antarctica.

She will be unimpressed with your new car and your expensive watch. She would rather climb a rock or jump out of an airplane than hear you brag about it

No one likes a braggart (event a braggart who brags about traveling!), but I do love cars. Did you just buy a nice one? I’d love to talk to you about its features and its specs, and if it’s a Maserati please let me drive it, thanks.
Also, I don’t really want to jump out of an airplane. It’s likely something I’ll never do…though in the moment some Dallas douchebag $30,000 millionaire who lives with his mom wants to tell me about his 2008 Mercedes, I do understand the desire to free fall tens of thousands of feet without a parachute. Immediately. During the conversation.

And she will never pay over $100 for Avicii because she knows that one weekend of clubbing is equivalent to one week somewhere far more exciting.

Dammit, I’m living my life all wrong. I guess all the backpacking I did was supposed to make me so enlightened I don’t like EDM. I have gladly spent weekends at Electric Zoo and Electric Carnival, but I don’t live in Orlando or NYC…so maybe they count as traveling?!

Not traveling. Okay, got it.
Not traveling. Okay, got it.

 

She is a freelancer. She makes money from designing, writing, photography or something that requires creativity and imagination. Don’t waste her time complaining about your boring job.

Okay, I’ll admit it: she nailed it here. I will send you pictures of my job (here I am taking a truck off roading for cash! Here I am with an NFL player at work! Here I am in lovely Huntington Beach, kind of working!) while you sit at a desk. If you hate your job, work to not have it.

Her days are ruled by the sun and the moon.

I don’t even know what the fuck that means.

Even when I travel, my life is actually ruled by 10,000,000 page textbooks and not the moon.
Even when I travel, my life is actually ruled by 10,000,000 page textbooks and not the moon.

 

She…doesn’t need you to pay for her meals.

Whoa there! Let’s not be hasty. I encourage men to pay for my meals. Hell, I encourage random strangers of any gender to pay my tab. Why not!

She will forget to check in with you when she arrives at her destination. She’s busy living in the present.

“She” sounds like a narcissistic bitch who doesn’t really care about the guy this is directed toward. You remember and make time for the people you love. If she travels and doesn’t bother to contact you, she’s just not that into you, bro.

I still appreciate a Rolex.
I still appreciate a Rolex.