Please Stand on the Right (And other Public Transit Etiquette)

As the capital of the United States and home to over 60 museums, dozens of monuments, and 954,327 skinny jeans, Washington DC is a tourist town. And I'm fine with that. I like discovering cool things in the city too. However, tourists are a huge proponent of my Angry Woman Syndrome that usually comes into effect when I ride Metro. Here are a few guidelines for tourists and DC residents who just don't know any better.

1) STAND ON THE RIGHT. And walk on the left. (During rush hour, please jog on the left). I know... the view of DC from inside the metro is spell-binding (blatant sarcasm), and you just want to leisurely take it all in, but... the rest of us have a job! We scheduled just enough time to stop for fruit and a bagel, grab an Express newspaper, and slide into a seat headed towards Metro Center. So for you to stand directly in front of me on the escalator, and take a photograph of my train as it flies past (THANKS, I JUST MISSED MY RIDE TO WORK), drives me wild. I can't deal. Do all your dawdling, amateur photography, and mock awe on the right side of the escalator. 

2) Pregnant ladies, seniors, particularly women, and people with small children should be allowed preference to seating. I can't count how many times I've seen women right on the edge of a contraction, holding for dear life onto the pole as some yuppie 26 year old IT guy sits with his ipad perched precariously on his knee. Seriously, I know it's 2010 and we're all independent and what not, but don't be a meanie. Let the elderly, pregnant, frail, and handicapped sit down. And if you see a family of 5, and clearly the 3 year old wants to sit with his 7 year old big sister, and you are the only one impeding their unity, moooooove. 

3) (Proper) Hygiene. Heeeey... I get it. By 8:30 AM, it's already been a long day for some, but you know your body. You know that regardless of negative temperatures and Old Spice's Guarantee, your body just doesn't do so well in the anti-perspiration department. See a doctor, double up on deo, carry air freshener, whatever you need to do so that the 45 or so people crammed within a couple square feet of you on the way to Bethesda don't have to wear a mask.

4) Keep all bodily fluids to yourself. One day, I was doing what I usually do on the train... surfing. Not swag surfing mind you, but balancing my weight in a way that ensured I didn't fall, without holding on to the poles. I don't like sitting on the seats, nor do I like touching the poles. I'm a germophobe, what can I say. I'm pretty good at this, but if it gets rough, I'll grab a pole to keep myself from slamming into the greasy Plexiglas. However, on this particularly day, I had the pleasure of witnessing a man sneezing directly on the pole in front of me so I didn't feel too comfortable grabbing it. I almost toppled onto a woman, and a man next to her said, "Hey, don't you think you should hold on to the pole?" I whipped my hair, and said, "Would you like to disinfect this pole first?" I admit, I'm sure with my neck roll and voice dripping of disparage, I confirmed the "Nasty Attitude" Stereotype for Black Women, but I don't care; I'm not going to wrap my hand around green goo. 

5) Watch your mouth. As my previous post suggests, I support the freedom of speech, so it shouldn't be illegal to curse or scream or yell or share the sordid details of your life on the bus or train, but it is certainly impolite. The day before yesterday, I listened to a woman telling her toddler to "Sit the *&% down!" repeatedly. Each time, he refused and she got louder and more belligerent. (He also repeated her order back to her amid giggles.) While she thought it was ok for her toddler to hear the F bomb, I'm not sure the other mothers and fathers on the train appreciated it. 

6) Your music is your music. I can jam to WaleSheryl CrowDonnie Hathaway, or Kirk Franklin. In other words, I'm pretty open. But that doesn't mean I wanna hear your music, honey. Use headphones and don't turn your headphones into speakers. The entire purpose of headphones is to make sure that the sound is just for *insert Souljah Boy voice* youuuuuu! Not for you to play it so loud that we can all hear it. Sometimes, I'm just not in a Marilyn Manson mood. And you may not want to hear me blast all 8 of Mariah Carey's octaves. So I'll respect your ears, and you respect mine. 

7) If you don't know what you're doing, step out of the way. You see a long line of people, hastily scanning their Smart Trip cards, and here you come... putting your paper fare card in the wrong way... Lots of people will be willing to help you, but ask someone on the side, don't get in the way. Better yet... ask the people paid to help you out. They've been pretty helpful to me. I'm not saying I'm going to push you onto the electric third rail, but I'm saying there's always a time and place. 


Now that you know a little public transit etiquette you're all set to load your cards and tour the city! Any other things I left out folks?