A Totally True Story Not In Any Way About Bike Commuting

I was walking to the Metro this morning because I'm a daily Metro commuter and there was this guy in front of me also walking to the station. We neared the escalator and he did a quick zig, cutting across my path to grab a copy of the Express from the ledge and then zagged back in front of me and while I had to stutter-step a little to avoid walking into him, it's not that much of a big deal because clearly he just was late in his decision to grab a paper and that's fairly forgivable. He stepped on the top step of the escalator and I followed him and we both took a few steps down the left side and then he came to a full stop and this time I bumped into him.  Maybe there was someone in front of him. There was  no one in front of him, but he just decided to stop anyway. I said "excuse me" and I moved to the right and shuffled around him and it's not that big of a deal. I guess he just doesn't get the whole 'walk on the left, stand on the right' thing. I got to the bottom of the escalator, removed my wallet and metro card and walked to the fare gates and then from behind me I heard the heavy thuds of the footsteps of someone running and as I went to turn my head to see what was happening, the same guy from the escalator ran past me and cut in front of me at the gate I was about to use. He didn't have his metro card out and isn't in any way prepared to do the task for which, for some reason, he decided to run towards at full speed. I waited for him as he fumbled in his pocket and eventually got through the gate. I followed and then decided to quicken my pace a bit to get around this guy who, now on the other side of the gate, dawdled slowly towards the next escalator. Weird guy, I think. I stepped on the next escalator, this time waiting on the right side, figuring I might as well just stand as no train was coming for another six minutes, when behind me I heard a heavy sigh and felt a tap on the shoulder. It's that same guy! And he's trying to walk down the escalator on the right side, even though there's no one standing on the left. Part of me wants to say nothing and refuse to move over, but I'm like 'fine, whatever' and step to the left. The guy then proceeded to run down the escalator and continues, running down the entire length of the platform.

There's no train for six minutes and the platform began to fill. The weird guy (as I've begun calling him) briskly jogged from one end of the platform to the other. "Gotta keep my heart rate up," he said to an old lady. "Good exercise," he said to no one in particular. I figured I should just try to ignore this dude, but it was difficult to stay clear of him entirely as there's only so much space on the platform and since he was jogging back and forth, it's not like I could necessarily know where to stand where to avoid him. Eventually, the lights on the platform flashed and the train pulled up and now, even though, I shouldn't have been surprised by this, the guy heretofore jogging broke out into a full sprint, seemingly racing us other passengers to one of the train doors. He stood directly in front of the closed door and as soon as it opened, he dove (I can't think of a better word to describe it) for a gap between some of the standing passengers, failing to let others exit the train before he entered. They grumbled and shuffled out and those of us waiting to board the train also grumbled a little about the guy who ran in front of us to get on the train first even though there seemed to be plenty of time to board. The old lady from earlier made her way onto the train and headed for the open seating reserved for the elderly and disabled and just as she was about to transfer her weight from her cane to sit down, the weird guy espied the empty seats, lumbered across the car and slid himself into one, placing his backpack on the other. He proceeded to turn up the music on his headphones and popped open a bag of Funyuns, crumbs of which cascaded from the sides of his mouth to the floor with each chomp. Someone else stood to allow the old lady to sit and the train passengers, myself included, scowled. Someone under her breath said "asshole." The guy remained oblivious to the notion that we were all scowling at him.

It was my stop soon and I moved towards the door to await the train pulling into the station and I thought about how strange a commute this had been and I was happy to be nearing the end of it. The door opened and I stepped onto the platform. I began my walk to the escalator when once again, that guy, having shoved his way through the closing doors of the train, proceeds to run past me, looks over his shoulder back at me, ensuring that he was, indeed, running faster than I was walking, and bounded onto the escalator. He raised his hands over his head like Rocky, extraordinarily satisfied with himself and the speed with which he ran from the train to the escalator. I think I heard him say "King of the Metro!" but maybe I misheard. I did hear him clearly when he took out his phone, dialed and then said, "Hi, Mom. I am awesome at Metro!" That was weird.

Clearly he didn't understand. Clearly he didn't realize that no one on the Metro was racing him from platform to escalator. Clearly he was unfamiliar with the established practice of walking on the left and standing on the right and letting the train empty before boarding and offering seats to the elderly and disabled. He didn't do anything "illegal" per se, but his behavior was odd and incongruous and seemed to do nothing to do anything but annoy his fellow travelers. He wasn't really following any of the established norms of commuting by subway and didn't seem to be in any way aware of this.

It's weird that there are Metro commuters who are like this. Oddly out of touch with their surroundings, unable to glean that perhaps their behavior isn't in keeping with that of those around them, seemingly unaware that no one is competing with them to see how quickly they can board or exit a train, placing their own quest for "awesomeness" ahead of anything else. Very weird. And it's weird that they fail to notice that this isn't the prevailing behavior of everyone else, people who are just trying to get to work and are aware that others are just trying to do the same. Maybe if that guy just realized that what he was doing was alienating and out of touch and made him seem like kind of ... an asshole, maybe then, he'd change his ways and it would make it better for everyone. Maybe then. But how to explain to someone that they're acting this way? How can I convey to these kind of train passengers that they should pay attention to the behavior of those around them and maybe think about not cutting people off and waiting their turn and giving sufficient space and showing proper deference to more vulnerable passengers and not trying to "race" people who clearly have no interest in doing that? I just don't know.


  1. I think this is an allegory about certain types of bicyclists but I'm not sure

  2. Nice KOM (King of the Metro)!

  3. It is like you were totally on my commute today.

  4. He may be developmentally disabled. This may have been his first ride alone on metro without his Mom or other supervision. What may have seemed like bizarre in that context for you may have been quite an accomplishment for him.

  5. Aspergers Syndrome "characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical (peculiar, odd) use of language are frequently reported."

  6. I think that my attempt at satire might have missed the mark. The above story is entirely fictitious.