February 20, 2007

This Morning on the Metro....

After a busy long weekend, I waited on the platform of the Silver Spring metro station for the next available train to take me to work. As a train approached, I was pleased to discover it was starting its journey from our station, so we boarded an empty train. Seat selection was a joy.

However, with our arrival to the Takoma station, the real excitement was about to begin.

As people boarded our formerly empty train, a gentleman was seated two rows ahead and to the right of me, and apparently was waiting for his friend to sit with him. A lady had approached this seat, and seeing that his friend was still approaching the seat, and there were others available, asked the woman if she could find a seat elsewhere.

She took a seat behind him in the very next row, and when the man's friend sat down, she began the morning's hysteria.

She loudly exclaimed how rude the man was, and that he had no right to push her away. (For the record, the lady sat down next to a Metro contractor who said he hadn't witnessed the alleged push because he was reading a newspaper. I didn't see a push, nor did anyone else claim to have witnessed it. This does not mean it didn't happen.) The man denied pushing her.

The conversation escalated, with the man and the woman going back and forth: she declaring his rudeness, and he denying her claims.

A Metro driver happened to walk by, as we were in the front car of the train, and came to intervene. He attempted to mediate, but eventually decided backup was necessary and called it in.

He leaves, which prompts the involvement of other passengers. A woman two rows ahead of me, and to the left of the men in question loudly states that the man who was holding the seat needed to be kicked off the train.

Another woman, a hippie type, then began her mediation attempt. She talked about how we humans are all "interconnected" and that each of us have an "energy" and when people argue like those two were doing, all of our "energy levels" were being depleted. She told them they needed to think about these things before they chose to fight.

He then apologizes for what he had done. The lady, not being satisfied since he wasn't looking at her when he said sorry, asked for another one. He complied.

By this time, we had arrived at other station, and an additional Metro employee boarded our train in an attempt to resolve the escalating conflict. He tried to get both sides of the story, and concluded with informing them that he was going to put in a call to the transit police.

The employee leaves, and the man and the woman do another back and forth. The man, who seemed to get extremely irritated with the situation at this point, informed her when she once again asked why he allowed the other man seated next to him the seat and not her, that he and the man "were together" and had been in a relationship for the past five years, and due to their schedules, riding the Metro was sometimes the only time they had to spend with one another.

The lady then spoke of the "relationship" she had with the Metro contractor seated next to her (who she had clearly never met previously), and when the man gave her a puzzled look to her response, she slowly understood what he had meant by being "together."

Unfortunately, this was not the end of the saga. Metro employees still needed to finish their involvement.

The Metro driver who initially witnessed the event came back to see what the status was. Both parties indicated that they had resolved their differences, but the driver wasn't convinced. He called for another employee to the situation. The other employee came and talked to both, and once again, he was informed that the two had solved their problem. After an impromptu meeting between the now four Metro employees now riding the train, the woman was offered a personal escort for the duration of her Metro ride. She declined it.

The couple departed at the Gallery Place station, 7 stations after the incident began. After the man and the woman exchanged a final apology, he and his boyfriend disembarked the train.

At the next station, the woman was greeted by a transit police officer who asked all the individuals in the front of the packed rush-hour train to leave so he could approach the woman. He asked her if she wanted to press charges against the man, which she declined. He confirmed this with her twice more, and after being satisfied, he left.

As we arrived at the next station and as I stepped off the train so I could head on into work, the lady I was seated next to, who I had shared the experience (sighing in unison on several occasions and offering our commentary to one another) were never so relieved to finally arrive at work.

What an exciting morning in the capital of our great land.

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