Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DC: Mayberry with Monuments

Photo by The Chicago Sun-Times

DC's summers are known for their "slow news cycle." The politicians get out of town; the paper & the local TV Talking Heads gorge themselves on soft features about the National Zoo's Giant Pandas & the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

Until yesterday, that is. And in the wake of the worst DC Metro crash in the subway system's 33-year history, I am reminded once again of what a small town I really live in.
Ignore the fact that at about 600,000 folks, DC is a pretty dinky metropolis. Ignore the fact that the city only encompasses about 68 square miles. DC & its Sister Suburbs in Maryland & Virginia are united by a pretty amazing, Star Wars-esque mode of transportation.

We DC-ites (yes, even in the 'burbs, we consider ourselves to be part of DC) generally take Metro for granted. The system of above- and below-ground trains & buses is clean& generally runs on time. Stations are located conveniently thruout the 3-jurisdiction system.

OK, nothing's perfect. We bitch when the trains are late; when bus drivers miss our stops; when weather wads the whole works up. But we're always smiling inside. We know that we're better than New York, Chicago, LA, because we have Metro.

When The Scribes lived on Capitol Hill, Metro was part of daily life. When we moved to the 'burbs, Mr. Fairway still took Metro into DC every day for work. We ride Metro to National Airport. We ride Metro to take DC Nationals games. Metro construction still disrupts our lives, as crews build an extension that will eventually reach out to our other local airport, west of town.

While many of my high school teaching brethren across the country have to hassle with hiring buses to take their charges on field trips, I never think twice. Metro is always the way to go.

That's why Monday's crash was more than jarring for those of us in the DC metropolitan area. Everyone we know rides Metro. And because those of us in Fairfax County, Virginia, for example, don't differentiate between our neighborhood & let's say, Silver Spring, Maryland, we were all concerned when one 6-car train rammed another during rush hour on Monday.

Facebook lit up with folks from PG County to Arlington, asking after friends who ride Metro. I know that The Scribe Family was more than a little concerned about 2 families we know who ride the Red Line daily. Ella Numera Dos received a call from a college friend clear across the country in Salt Lake City, asking if she was OK.

The photo above shows Metro at its most crowded, on Inauguration Day earlier this year. 1.2 million folks rode the DC rails that day. Yesterday's commute on the Red Line was not nearly as crowded. Taking into account that summer is here...and DC really does clear out in the summertime...and that the 2 trains involved in the accident were headed into town, only 76 people went to area hospitals.

That doesn't minimize the loss of the 9 who died on Monday. The images of Monday's crash are jarring, which is why I chose not to picture them today. I'm just happy that Metro is here; it's the DC area's way of staying in touch.

This modern convenience makes life easier. It makes us friendlier, & it keeps us cross-polinating across the Potomac, which I think is a very good thing.

So don't call DC cold, removed, magisterial. Think of Our Nation's Capital as Mayberry--with Monuments.


Veggie Mom said...

I agree with you on DC. It's just a small-town, big-city. I've always loved the feel of DC, and felt so sad myself when I heard about the Metro crash. Hope everyone is holding up OK out there. Sending positive vibes your way...

Lynda said...

I love DC... my mom lived there many years... love it!

Tara R. said...

I thought of you when I heard about the wreck on the news. I'm glad you and yours are okay.

My peeps took a family trip to D.C. a few years ago... Loved IT, and want to go back soon. One of the highlights for the kids was riding the Metro.

LadyStyx said...

Glad to hear that you and yours are fine. You were one of the handful of people I know in the area that immediately came to mind when that accident was announced.

Marrdy said...

I have been worried about you and yours. Glad to hear that everyone is safe. What a tragedy!

Susie said...

I am glad that everyone you know was ok. I love the Mayberry with Monuments concept:-)

Jen said...

Very scary. Even a big city feels like a small town when something like this happens. We all need to reach out to one another.

Alicia said...

My brother lived there for years and I was never able to make it out... someday I'd love to go though... said...

Public transportation, just like the cars on the freeway, is prone to accidents. Only when it happens, it affects large numbers of people. Still, I would prefer public transportation any day. Glad to know you all are fine; sympathies for those who lost loved ones.

HappyChyck said...

I thought of you, too when I heard, too. :) I was rather surprised it did not get more news coverage. It could have been much, much worse, I know. Does it make people nervous, or is it back to life as usual?


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