Riding the Rails

I don’t know how I got to the point of really loving public transportation, after all, I was a staunch car person. However, when I relocated to the heart of New York City, I had to face my “fears” of public transportation, or strap on some comfortable shoes and hit the pavement to get everywhere. This is exactly what I did for a couple of weeks when I first arrived, until I had an interview on the Upper Westside. That train ride changed me, in an instant. My fear was predicated upon laying eyes on the NYC/MTA subway map and observing the endless loops, tangles and weaves. It wasn’t long before I gladly descended down the stairs and into the New York underworld.

Now, I am back living in D.C. (after a three year hiatus), and am back on the rails of the WMATA system. The first thing I notice is the carpet and the padded seats. My back, as well as my behind are thankful for the cushion. My eyes slowly observe the system map, which now seems effortless to navigate. I used to joke that a kid in pre-school could give directions. In my other life, maybe I would have been some sort of anthropologist or psychologist, because from time to time as I look up from my own reading material, I am watching people. I am watching as they enter a car, decide where to stand (or not stand), where to sit (or not sit). “Too many choices”, I think to myself. I can think that though, I am already in a good space. When a train is packed to capacity (and there aren’t many “choices”), you’re likely to stand next to someone you wouldn’t normally have chosen to stand next to. Sometimes, the most unlikely of friendly conversations evolve from one stop to the next…sometimes more. To me, this is unusual to D.C., than in any other city that I’ve visited with mass transit.

These are just some of the things I love about riding the subway in a major city. Although I miss New York, I imagine it’s not as easy as it used to be with the random bag checks, etc. That’s okay though, I’ll settle for my smaller system with its carpet and padded seats.

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