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May 24, 2005

Thanks for asking

I sometimes say that in my former life I was an exceptionally moral cockroach, but if I really believed in reincarnation, I would have to assume I had done something wrong.

My morning commute includes a half hour on the Metro into downtown Washington. My favorite activity on this trip is trying to take a short nap. On a good day, I can get in 5 or 10 minutes; on a bad day, I can at least zone out and reach a state of something between awake and asleep, which can be mildly refreshing. On a very bad day . . .

I have three major nemeses (that's the plural of nemesis for those of you who got here by searching Google for some perverted act) in my effort to nap on the Metro.

  • The Blaster. This is someone who insists on carrying on a loud conversation in my vicinity, usually in the seat right behind mine. This is a library, bud. Conversations are discouraged, and when they are had, they should be conducted at a hushed volume.
  • The Bumper. This is the person who sits next to me (Metro seating is two to a seat) and moves his limbs or body around so that he repeatedly bumps my arm, leg, or side. It doesn't have to be a hard bump; a soft tap will also prevent me from napping or will wake me up if I'm asleep. I've learned how to squeeze myself into the wall of the train to minimize this, but a skilled bumper merely expands to fit the available space.
  • The Flapper. This is someone who can't read a newspaper without loudly rustling the pages. Usually, this person holds the paper with his arms stretched out wide. In New York, where I commuted for a couple of years, you could be shot for this offense. The New York Times (unlike the Washington Post) is designed to be folded perpendicular to the main fold, so you can read it in a narrow space, like a subway or commuter train.
Today, I learned there's a fourth nemesis. I don't know exactly what to call him, but here's his description: he's a big oaf, probably 6' 1", 200 lbs., who plops down next to me so hard that a tremor is felt in Chicago; he immediately begins to sneeze loudly and make other ENT noises; and he's a bumper and flapper, to boot.

So, no, I didn't get a nap or anything resembling a nap on my trip in this morning. (Thanks for asking.)

And one more complaint about some Metro riders. When you're seated on the aisle, and the person on the inside seat next to you says "Excuse me" with the obvious intent of getting up to leave at the next station, don't say to that person, "I'm getting out here, too" and refuse to budge until the train has come to a complete stop in the station. The person on the inside is asking you to let him out, because he doesn't want to wait until the last minute and risk not getting out of the train before the doors close. Do you understand? Let the guy out right now, or I'll send you the URL to the Google search for the perverted act.