A few weeks ago, I was on my way to a meeting and attempted to get out of the Metro system via the New York Avenue station. I live in Virginia and am served primarily by the Orange Line (which, for what it's worth, has a whole litany of problems) but I always cringe twice as hard when I find out I need to use the Red Line. This time, the ride went pretty smoothly but I experienced a minor setback when my DumbTrip card balked and asked me to solicit some help from the station manager.
The last time I sought help from a station manager to resolve an unrelated matter, it didn't go well. This time, however, the manager on duty that day in the New York Avenue station could not have been nicer. She promptly recused herself from a conversation with a coworker and opened the kiosk door to ask me what was wrong. Her responses were friendly and she didn't show signs of exasperation, even after I had to go up and bug her again twice more because the card was still so uncooperative. When all was said and done, she smiled, saluted me and wished me a great day. I thanked her profusely and proceeded to go about my business. Had some thoughtless young girl not spilled part of her mocha latte on me as we approached Gallery Place on the way back, it would have been a perfect ride. This is why I keep a spare clean suit in my office.
But, wait, there's more!
After a year and a half of heavy usage, I decided it was time to replace my aging DumbTrip card, given what happened at New York Avenue. It always helps to have a backup on hand (friends don't let friends be seen in public with paper fare cards) and, plus, there's a commuter store right above my home station in Ballston. The woman inside was on the phone when I approached, but she placed the other party on hold when she saw me park myself in front of the glass, which was very refreshing. I've been "placed on in-person hold" more often than I'd like to admit as the person behind the desk prattles away on the phone. She even waived the $0.25 "convenience fee" for me when I told her I didn't have an extra quarter. Class act, madam!
So, station manager and commuter store attendant, I commend you both for reminding me that there's a reason why I use public transportation. I wish I'd have thought to ask for your names so I could sing your praises all over the Internet. As for you, coffee girl, the fact that you were so sincerely apologetic made it impossible for me to hate you. You might be a little clumsy, but it was early and you may have been still waking up. You're probably not a bad person. I still stand by my statement that it's my biggest pet Metro peeve and, since you were actively drinking it while the train was in motion, I'm still not sorry for reporting you to the train operator. I doubt he ended up doing anything about it, anyway.
In closing, the Metro's been straddling the line between maddening and FUBAR for some time now. I've been subjected to countless sardine trains, stuck in a tunnel for nearly an hour and I even came close to getting robbed at L'Enfant once. (Thankfully, the nature of my employment requires that I maintain a permit to carry a concealed weapon. I'm not afraid to smack someone with the butt end of it.) In spite of Metro's shortcomings and caveats, of which there are many, the best I can do is to try to keep an open mind while riding the rails. Sometimes, it pays off.
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