Star Wars Opens Doors
A Short Time Ago, To A Metro Stop Far, Far Away.…
By Maureen D. Friedman
Forget automatic doors; Metrorail makes me feel like a Jedi. As I coolly slide my SmartTrip card over the sensor, the barriers open for me; I’m not the terrorist they’re (not particularly) looking for. My boots tap as I do my O.C.D.-style dance across the saucer-like tiles, and am conveyed aloft by the combined speed of running and electricity that is bestowed as a passenger of the left side. The thought flicks across my mind that my political leanings and choice of escalator side are one and the same, as I watch a troop of fanny-pack clad Republicans cling contentedly to the right moving handrail. This is the sort of thought that only dawns on a Washingtonian. I board the train and consciously seat myself on a blue cushion.
Thus begins the first half of my epic journey across the galaxy, the green line from College Park to Chinatown. Observing my fellow comrades and journeymen, the usual characters appear. College students, so fervently studious as they eschew even an ipod, you wonder why they arent in class at 10:46am on a Friday morning. Frazzled families of 12 heatedly discuss the colored lines on the map located conveniently above an ancient sleeping man’s head. But the true alien only appears as I switch trains in Chinatown. Gripping her contraband Starbucks cup with her thin fingers and darkly enameled nails, this character thumbs her blackberry with eyes affixed to the tiny screen, as she almost runs into 8 or so less well-dressed citizens of humanity. I wish her the best of luck on her voyage to the Chinatown bus home to New York.
As the redline train to Shady Grove opens its (automatic!) doors to me, I walk in and seat myself beside one of the various princesses of the redline. She has that “I’m pre-law so I can continue shopping like with daddy’s plastic” look about her. She is earnest and smart, wealth-bound and has never worked in the food service. As she carefully holds the “Express” with gloed hands hovering above her white thighs, I notice her loosly packed Luis Vuitton mini backpack and wonder whatever happened to normal school hours.
My royal brunette friend is gone by the time I reach the Bethesda stop. Two men in trench coats arise and walk off the train discussing restaurant week as versus “Taste of Bethesda”. They apparently didn’t digest the mocking tone of voice used by Meg Ryan in “When Harry Met Sally”.
My journey comes to a close at Shady Grove. On an average late-afternoon commute, I would hear fraught cell phone discussions debating casserole ingredients to be picked up at the Giant before making it home.
But it is much earlier today, and the small band of Metrorail riders who disembark are largely listless and directionless. There is one clearly homeless man, and one obvious late ‘Walk of Shame-r‘.
The turnstiles open and I walk noisily down the grey-brown corridor to the outside suburbia. Will there be another episode? If they don’t approve the fare-increase or six-car trains, it is quite likely. I can almost hear the familiar strains as John Williams jauntily plays the imaginary exit music in my ear. Time to pick up a few new power converters.