Mom and the Metro

Amazingly enough, I’m not completely freaking out about getting grading done this semester. Either  that means I have reasonable goals to accomplish between now and when final grades are due, or I’m just in a state of blissful denial about how dire the situation is. At any rate, last week, I took some time off to go to Virginia and see The Jersey Boys musical. This required meeting Jillian in DC with my mom in tow, which was problematic for two reasons.

First, my mom hates city life — including public transportation. I conveniently waited until the day of the big event to tell her that we were taking the metro instead of driving. This news was met with a giant groan and claims that she would bring pepper spray. To me, wanting to drive into DC was a completely illogical desire on her part; she hates my driving under normal circumstances not to mention in rush hour traffic when I don’t know where I’m going, and DC parking is an absolute nightmare under pretty much all circumstances unless you are visiting the Kennedy Center and willing to shell out a small fortune to park in their garage. But, I think her general hatred of cities was clouding her judgement. So, I drove her to the parking garage hearing her say, “I hate cities.”

Just so my mom doesn’t look like a curmudgeon perhaps I should take a little time out to have a moment of true confession. I’m not all that fond of cities either. Just the night before, I had an all out temper tantrum when I realized that I would have to pay to park in a garage if I wanted to eat at Panera. I mean, it was a bona fide temper tantrum. When I saw it wasn’t a free garage, I zoomed past and drove around the Harris Teeter parking lot fuming about the fee in the parking garage. I was so irrationally mad that for a few minutes the only two options I would consider were walking in the cold, dark night from the Harris Teeter lot all the way to the Panera or turning around and going to the McDonald’s parking lot. In the end, reason prevailed, and I paid my $1 to park in the garage. Before you judge my temper, you should know that for the better part of the afternoon I had been grading papers  that still showed signs of plagiarism despite my extensive comments on first drafts.

So, now that I’ve let my mom off the hook a little bit, I’ll say that she stayed in relatively good humor while I walked her into the mall and promptly got lost. Finally, I found out how to enter the maze of skywalks to get to the metro. Then, a realization struck. All access to metros in DC is escalator based. And, these are not wimpy escalators. In fact, the Wheaton metro’s escalator, coming in at 230 feet, is the second longest continuous escalator in the world (at least, according to Wikipedia). If you want to be impressed,  you can watch this guy run up the Wheaton escalator.

The problem with all these escalators is that my mom hates them. I’m not sure which she hates more, escalators or cities. I am sure that for years whenever we would be at a mall, she would make us take the time to find an obscure hidden elevator just so she didn’t have to ride the escalator. I’m also sure about what started her fear about escalators though the fear, again, lacks an element of logic. The fear started when I was a little kid; being just as full of grace and poise as I am now, I made a misstep onto the down escalator. This caused me to start falling down the steps, and my mom had to reach out and save me by grabbing my hand. At the time, it didn’t feel like much of a salvation since she grabbed my hand and ripped me back up several steps, doing considerable damage to my shins in the process. However, in retrospect, it was good mama reflexes, and it was also enough of a scare to turn her off to escalators.

Fortunately, as I overcame my own fear of escalators much more quickly and as I finally got old enough to refuse to traipse all over the mall looking for a mom-safe elevator option, I had been given several years to start desensitizing mom to escalators before the big metro field trip. When we’re at the mall, she just accepts as fact that we will take the escalator. Also, fortunately, we were not at the Wheaton station, so the escalators were a bit more moderate.

Really nothing eventful happened, which is helpful just in case I need to get my mom into the city again. Since we didn’t have any dramatic adventures, I had time to hypothesize about adventures, so I’ll end with two observations about metros and their  relationship with action movies.

1) If you need to get on top of the train, just jump onto it from the ticketing deck of the station. Really, this would be an easy drop and the train is moving pretty slow at this point, and this would be much wiser than the idiot criminals that dash out between the cars and climb some (non-existent) ladder to the car top. First, the cars have quite a bit of sway, so it would be pretty easy to get smashed between them. Second, I could be wrong, but I think there is a detrimental design flaw on the metro cars. It would appear that the emergency doors on the ends of the car open outward, so I think only someone the approximate width of an index card would fit out of the door due to its crashing into the adjoining car.

2) Don’t plan on doing that clever little move where you jump onto the train, let the bad guy follow you, and then jump off only to wave goodbye. First, you can’t run through the cars due to the little issue noted above. Second, the doors open and close way too quickly to allow for this move. Let’s face it, if you try to get cute and do this, you’re just going to wind up stuck in the metro car with the diabolical madman until at least the next stop.