I spend most of my days sitting.
Whether it’s in a desk chair at work, a straight-backed dining room chair provided by my overpriced apartment complex or a puce-colored leather seat on the metro, it doesn’t matter. I would rather be running.
But on the metro, at least I’m going somewhere. At least I’m moving…toward more sedentary living.
We can thank Charles Harvey and his West Side and Yonkers Patent Railway Company, which built the first elevated railway back on July 2, 1867 along New York City’s Greenwich Street and Ninth Avenue. Now we have at least 15 subway systems in the U.S., and, to be fair, they’re relatively convenient.
When I first moved to the DC area, I was awed by the metro. You didn’t have to drive it, and it could take you nearly anywhere you wanted to go in the city? Sign me up.
In my home state of Michigan, where it takes nearly six hours to drive from the southern border to the upper point at the top of the mitten, public transportation isn’t a concept we residents understand. The closest thing we have to a subway is the “People Mover,” billed as “the best way to discover downtown Detroit.”
In actuality, the best way to discover Detroit would be to declare bankruptcy and start from scratch. Check.
But here in Washington, the economy’s flourishing (unemployment rate of 5.4 percent for the DC metro region) in comparison to Detroit (a whopping 16% were unemployed as of April). People actually want to go out at night. They want to avoid the horrendous Beltway traffic. Companies often provide metro stipends that are comparable to parking prices. The metro makes sense, and those who use it generally give it a favorable rating.
Now. I’ve been riding the metro consistently for a good three years now. I’ve waited 20 minutes for a red line train only to wait another 20 minutes for a green line train because the schedules are horribly aligned. I’ve shaken my head in amazement after hearing that the College Park metro station would be completely closed down on the weekend of graduation. I’ve contemplated walking rather than waiting close to 40 minutes for an orange line train out of downtown because the metro was single tracking ON THE DAY OF THE NIKE WOMEN’S HALF MARATHON. It didn’t matter that 15,000 participants plus their families would be clogging the streets, let alone the subway tunnels. No sirree, track work had to be done that day.
Basically, I’ve reached that ripe old age where I want some more control in my life. I no longer have any desire to sit there and listen to the metro conductor tell me that the train will be holding because of scheduled maintenance. Instead, I want to sit in my red Honda Civic — with the digital speedometer that is so much easier to see than the standard one; the piles of old Michigan maps stuffed into the seat pocket that date back to family road trips; the chipped paint on the front bumper from the time I hit the back of a van trying to pull into a tiny parking space a week after I’d gotten my license; the jagged chunk missing from the back bumper where my mom backed into our own trash can; the mix CD Daniel Gallen gave me as a secret santa gift last year that remains the only CD I actually listen to anymore.
I’m done with red line, blue line, green line generalizations. I want my colorful, personal identity back.