Tuesday, September 27, 2011
The other day, I entered Clarendon at rush hour. After going down the first set of escalators, I noticed a 50-something Asian man with a cane leaning up against the wall. It was an odd place to camp out. He was obviously handicapped in some way.
As I was descending, I saw him softly call out to several people, but they either didn't hear him or ignored him.
I went over to see what the problem was, and he said, with more than a hint of panic in his voice, he was "trapped" and asked "please help me."
In many Metro stations you have to use three escalators just to get in or out. Clarendon is one of those stations. There are escalators from the train platform to the mezzanine (where the station manager's kiosk and faregates are), then another long escalator to an intermediate area and finally, a shorter escalator up to the street. The last two sets have two escalators and one staircase.
For a moment, I thought the distraught rider might be missing a few screws, so I asked how he was trapped. He pointed to the set of escalators I'd just come down. One was going down, and the other was also a staircase. I hadn't even noticed the stopped one.
He dropped his head, looked at the ground, and sighed as he explained how he was unable to climb or descend stairs because he'd recently had an aneurism. He was embarrassed by his predicament and having to ask for help to simply get out of the Metro.
I asked him why he didn't go down a level via the long set of escalators and catch the elevator up to the street.
Still downcast, he shook his head and, using his cane, pointed over to them. One was coming up, and the other was blocked off "under repair."
Indeed, the poor guy was trapped in Metro and had been for at least 15 minutes, he said.
I went down to get the station manager who came up and tried, many times, to change the direction of the one working escalator on the outermost set. He wasn't able to. He shrugged his shoulders and said they often only go in one direction and if you try to change the direction, they stop working altogether. Who knew?
The station manager and I then walked over the next set. He said he wasn't hopeful, but he cleared the working one of riders and, after several minutes of trying, was able to reverse it. He looked relieved, as was I.
For a few minutes there, I was starting to think we would have to add to the poor rider's embarrassment by carrying him out of the station.
The handicapped man was overjoyed when he saw his escape route. We all rode it down where, I assume, he caught the elevator which would, at long last, take him to the street and out of Metro's clutches.
I don't know if the station manager was ever able to get the escalator heading up again.
Broken escalators have consequences beyond annoyance for some riders, and I can't really imagine how scared and helpless this rider felt.
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Posted by Unsuck DC Metro at 8:30 AM
Trapped in Metro
Unsuck DC Metro