Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's your Pleasure? (A Year in the City)

Food Trucks as far as the eye can see. Or at least for a block.

During my morning commute on the metro, I'll pass a food truck heading for the DC line. I often wonder if they will end up at Farragut  Square which is right by my usual metro stop.

Even as early as 9:40a.m. they start to file in. The food trucks. All of us in a zombie-like trance riding the escalators up to the square can smell them before they come into view. A strange mixture of aromas assault the senses as we cross over I Street and begin down the walk of multicultural food-stuffs. Every day they are slightly different, but the schedule is the same.

"If only you were open. I would happily give you my money..."

But alas, before 10:00a.m., none of the windows are open. Vendors are hanging signs and unpacking freezers of meat and condiments. They await the masses.

Yet, something amazing always happens. They are their own little community within a community. I've seen on multiple occasions, a food truck owner get out of their truck and help guide another truck to parallel park in a spot. They will also help other trucks unpack and set up. Being that I still stereotype DC sometimes... I would have thought that they would feel the competition to sell their wares and not try to help one another. But I am happily mistaken!

On rare occasion I will leave work early enough to witness the feeding frenzy that becomes Farragut Square during lunch. Seriously, have you seen a bunch of ducks being fed bread at a park pond? It's sort of like that. But the ducks have high heels and briefcases, and the bread is more like a taco-dumpling-empanada-fish sandwich type thing.

The temptation to stay and get in line is great. But then someone undoubtedly will jolt me back to reality with a push or stepping right in my path. Yup. I want to go home. Maybe next time.

But this DC cultural phenomenon is a fleeting thing. If I leave after 3:00p.m. there is no longer a sign of life at the Square aside from those walking to the metro, and the regulars in the park. The food trucks and their delirious aromas of international cuisine have long since gone. And I'm left to trudge back towards Virginia with an empty stomach.

Someday I will stop. Someday the timing will be right and I'll take part in the frenzy. But perhaps it is not today.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Situation Metro... All F***ed Up (A Year in the City)

Poor, poor WMTA. The Metro has been having quite a rough couple of  years. Crashes, power outages, fires, smoke inhalation death, poor management, broken 40 year old trains, snakes (WTF) and the ever present elevator outages.

And then there's the random derailments that can happen. Yup. Derailments.

So here's the gist of what happened last Wednesday:
A non-passenger train derailed at the Smithsonian Metro station Thursday caused major disruptions and delays for riders.
At 5:20 a.m., three cars of the 6-car train derailed at a switch point inside the station's tunnel. The train was being readied for service, so no passengers were on-board at the time of the derailment. There were no injuries, however, some damage was reported along the track.
Crowds of passengers spilled out onto the streets as a result as they had to navigate a patchwork of shuttle buses to get to their destination.
The derailment caused the Smithsonian and Federal Triangle stations to close and rail service on the Blue and Orange lines was suspended between the Federal Center SW and McPherson Square stations.
By late afternoon, two of the derailed railcars were re-railed and allowed Metro to restore partial service on the Blue and Orange lines.
At 8 p.m., the Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations reopened for service. Single tracking was occurring on the Blue and Orange lines. (Courtesy of
So that was a little treat for everyone. I ended up being lucky. I got on my normal Silver line train with the expectation of changing trains at East Falls Church (to the Orange line) as they were requiring. 
We filed out silently to an already large crowd on the platform, waiting for the next Orange line train to help shuttle our super late asses to the city. 
Then something amazing happened. A Metro worker yelled out, Get back on folks. This is the ONLY Silver line train with approval to continue to McPherson Square (in the city). I glanced up at the Silver line sign on the train which flickered once and then listed "Special." Hell yeah we were! We got the golden (or in this case, silver) ticket to the city. We shuffled back onto the train car and turned it into a clown car... DC edition. There were people crowding into the cars, causing the train to tip slightly to the left from the excess of weight. We were low-riding it into the city. It still took well over two hours to get to work when it was all said and done, but the confusion was brought to a minimum. 
I exhaled when the train trudged up to Farragut. I made it with one stop to go before they shut down access for the derailment. All the same, the city was scurrying like a chicken with its head cut off. People were piling into buses that were stacked outside of the metro. Other commuters like myself, filled the streets and sidewalks in hopes of hailing a cab or walking to their final destinations. 
Leaving work was no better. We were still single-tracked out of the city, so LaKesha and I smushed in with others attempting to head back to Virginia and waited 20 minutes to switch back to the Silver Line. It took almost 3 hours to get home and I had to change my final exam in Woodbridge to virtual... there would have been no way for me to make it in time. 
So instead of everything going back to normal by Thursday... there was a power outage. Single tracking again. Yay for the Silver-liners! Of course there are growing pains and I think WMTA knows it. They're being kind enough to refund our fares for that day. And thankfully the cars are now out of the tunnels and things are back to "normal." Even more thankfully, the metro conductor of that train is unharmed, and it was a non-passenger train, so no one else was on board to be injured. But it's just one more event in a series of unfortunate incidents for DC Metro as of late.

Also, why does it take that long to fix an elevator? 

Also, also, why don't we have THESE cars (the 8000 series) on the NEW Silver Line? What makes Blue and Orange so dang special that we can't have nice things?