We Rode to Joy

October 26, 2012

No one likes Monday mornings. And Metro riders may like them even less, based on my years of carefully calibrated grumpiness measurements. So the sheer number of smiles I encountered this past Monday at the Dupont station nearly made me fall down the escalator.

Had I taken a tumble, I’d probably have a grin on my face, too. The bruises would be proof that I wasn’t dreaming — the south entrance, which had been shuttered for 8½ months, was really open again. Even better, it had three working escalators for the first time in forever. Best of all? Krispy Kreme employees were on the scene, handing out pumpkin spice cake samples.

“They love the hat,” pastry slinger Bobbie Major said of the morning commuters, pointing to her baseball cap topped with a plastic doughnut. But she wasn’t nearly as popular a photo subject as the new escalators. (“So sleek and nice. I put it on Instagram myself,” Major said.)

Alexandria resident Priya Chhaya, 30, was counting the “likes” on her Facebook photo of the escalators while sipping a celebratory chai from Saxbys when she bumped into her co-worker Diana Maxwell. The 27-year-old had come up with a new name for the Dupont south entrance: “The awesomeness.”

“It was very smooth, and lit nicely. I’m a fan,” Maxwell said. Mark Winchester, 21, who was coming from Rhode Island Avenue, commented on that pleasant “new escalator smell.” And nearly everybody raved about getting back the 10 minutes they’d had to spend walking from the Dupont north entrance.

It’s not a long trek, but it was an inconvenience, particularly for riders with health problems. Beth Conte, 51, who walks with a cane because of a bad hip, was relieved that she now just has to make it across the street to her office.

Swept up in the joy of the morning, even folks dwelling on the past were putting a positive spin on it. “It was kind of nice to have the change in scenery,” said 62-year-old George Borababy, who enjoyed discovering new shops on his altered walk to work the past few months.

Amid the rainbows and unicorns — I didn’t actually see them, but I’m pretty sure they were there — I bumped into Metro chief spokesman Dan Stessel, who started bragging about the escalators like a proud dad. “The steps and handrails are moving at the same speed,” he said, noting that techs will be around for the next few weeks “ready to rock ’n’ roll” in case there’s a problem (such as Thursday morning’s brief fire alarm-related shutdown).

I managed to find only one guy with a complaint all morning. Anthony Case, 33, had come in from Shady Grove hoping he’d be early enough to snag one of the signs announcing that the south entrance was closed. He wasn’t. “I was going to dress up as it for Halloween,” Case said.

But he’ll settle for the shorter walk to his office — and one spectacular Monday morning.

Vicky Hallett is a MisFit columnists and the Fit editor for Express.
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Kristen Page-Kirby | October 26, 2012