Thursday, March 02, 2006

Misadventures on the Metro

chapter 8

Do you hear that?

It’s the sound of silence; deep, penetrating silence.

Not that you’d hear a pin drop. No one is talking, true. But there’s a constant throbbing rumble interspersed with metal-on-metal clashes, causing your dental work to throb like fingernails screeching down a chalkboard.

Other than that it’s quiet. I don’t exactly know why or how this happens. Considering the amount of traffic on the Metro lines any given day, it’s perplexing that a crowd of people so large can be so mute.

I must have missed the day the Metro powers that be knighted all riders and armed them with the Rules & Regulations Procedural Booklet. Fortunately I have extracted the pertinent information based on the qualitative research of my observational analysis (see, I do remember something from college). There are more rules, to be sure, but here are the important ones:

Rule 1: Don’t talk (pretty self-explanatory).
Rule 2: Don’t acknowledge the other human beings around you (see Rule 3 for additional information).
Rule 3: Avoid eye contact at all costs (read the three words on the train’s only sign over and over if you have to, but NEVER look at anyone. If you must, quickly divert your eyes when they notice your gaze. Act like nothing ever happened. See Rule 2 for additional information).
Rule 4: All devices that make sounds must be stowed in their silent position (unless you have a cool ring tone).

Among the obedient throngs there are sly rule breakers. Their disobedience is sneaky, covert. They do, however, have a distinguishing hallmark which is small, skinny and electronic in nature. If you can spot it, those passengers transform into robots tangled in wires. Their eyes are cold and glassy. Their head bobs to the side automatically.

They seem lost on planet…Mariah? Wait, did I just hear Mariah Carey? Hold on a second…let me consult my rules booklet. Nope, no exceptions for Mariah. My eyes move from their fixed carpet-burning position to the source of the sound. Then I spot it. Not Mariah, but a robot passenger. I see the small
, skinny, electronic-in-nature clue and follow it to the white ear buds. Then I notice other passengers glancing up in the direction of the rules violator. Snears and loud sighs commence.

But it does no good. Planet Mariah is very noisy and the robot can’t hear the other passengers. The same is not true, though, because everyone else can hear all the lyrics to
“We Belong Together.”

I need to find out the hotline number to report rule breakers. Maybe next time I’m on the train I’ll ask someone. Oh, wait…


Dan said...

There is currently a workaround for staring at people on the Metro. It involves positioning yourself neara window, and looking directly at the reflections of other passengers as clearly as if you were staring directly at them. The beauty is, no one suspects a thing (other than maybe thinking you're an autistic who loves to stare out into the dark featureless tunnels of the Metro). The funny thing is, even when someone looks your way while you are gazing in the reflective mirror - you still avert your eyes!

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