metroOn the occasion of feeling fed up with the Washington, D.C., subway system.

4. The smoke in the tunnel, Dec. 12. You know it’s not going to be a good morning when you reach the station gate and find it plastered with yellow signs that essentially urge you to turn around and go home. Turns out someone spotted smoke in a tunnel downtown, forcing major delays during morning rush hour. Surprisingly, my train was delayed only 15 minutes or so, which is why this doesn’t rank higher.

3. The escalator breakdown, Dec. 9. In August, the escalator I use to reach the upper level at the Gallery Place/Chinatown station went out of service. This forced my fellow upper level-bound commuters and I to share a narrow stairway with commuters coming downstairs. No big deal, right? Well, when you have 30 to 50 people rushing up and down the stairs at once, it gets pretty chaotic. (“What a clusterfuck!” as one tourist on the stairs remarked recently.) On Dec. 4, after more than four months, the escalator returned, and order was restored. Too bad it lasted just five days. On Dec. 9, the escalator went out of service – again. Chaos has resumed.

2. The overcrowded trains, Dec. 10. “Wow, I’m really making good time this morning! It’s 7:40, and I’m already at the Metro station. I’ll just stand here and wait for the next train. Here it is! Oh gosh, it’s really crowded. I’ll wait for the next one. Here it is! Yikes, this one’s shoulder to shoulder, too. It’s a good thing I’m ahead of schedule. I’ll just wait here until a train that isn’t overflowing arrives.” After five trains passed, I gave up and squeezed my way onto the sixth overcrowded train. I got to work 30 minutes late.

1. The track work, Dec. 7. The worst. Andrew and I swiped our SmarTrip Cards, entered the station and descended to the platform, only to learn track maintenance was causing big delays. The station announcer advised passengers to give themselves an extra 30 minutes. This information would have been helpful before we entered the gate and paid our fare. After waiting 10 minutes, we exited the station, spent another five minutes trying to hail a cab, finally arriving at our destination – a late showing of “Milk” – a half-hour late. By the time we made it into the theater, all the good seats were taken. Hours after the movie ended, my neck  was still sore having to contort my body to see the screen. Yeah, that’s right: Metro literally caused a pain in my neck.

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