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.
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.