Steve Ander woke up on Sunday with the worst hangover of his life. The 31-year-old, who lives in Old Town, hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol the day before. But he did take one heck of a shot: Ander endeavored to use a single day pass to visit all 86 Metro rail stations.
For his “Metrothon,” Ander couldn’t count a stop unless he’d exited, snapped an exterior photo and posted it on Twitter. (“The pylon was proof,” says Ander, aka @Metro_nomad.)
He didn’t even come close to finishing. When Ander devised this challenge, he forgot to factor in time-sucking weekend track work. He also didn’t consider the toll it would take on his body. He was dehydrated — on purpose, because of the limited access to bathrooms. He was exhausted — after nearly 20 hours of riding. And he was sore — from all of that escalator climbing.
“It was quite an ordeal,” says Ander, who managed to hit only 66 stations by closing time.
I’d call that a failure. But Ander says he got what he was after: a better understanding of the WMATA system. “It’s a huge asset to the region, and I want to see how complex it is,” says Ander, who still plans to hit the 20 stations he didn’t get to.
With his Saturday binge, Ander definitely earned a degree in Metro 101. “In a day, I consumed more WMATA than anyone else has: 66 escalators, turnstiles, pylons,” he says. (And he saw so many ads for Ice Cube’s new movie “Ride Along” that he’ll never forget the tagline: “Propose to this cop’s sister? Rookie mistake.”)
Cellphone service was way better than he’d expected, and most of the escalators he trudged up were working. The lighting has room for improvement, however, Ander says. Only Wheaton and Forest Glen seemed bright enough. Those two stations also offered the most memorable exits — the former with its epic escalator (the second-longest in the world), the latter with its speedy elevators. “When the doors open up, you definitely feel like you’re in a James Bond movie there,” Ander says.
But real spies wouldn’t just rush through a place they were scoping out. They’d case the joint at all hours of the day. They’d study the people on the scene. They’d consider potential escape routes. Basically, they’d figure out what a regular commuter has to go through to face the daily challenge of getting from point A to point B.
So if Ander really wants to dig up some Metro insight, I suggest he take a 007-style approach to his last 20 station visits. (Minus the fancy cars, of course.) He needs to get out and experience more than the nearest pylon — take a stroll to see how well the stop connects with the surrounding neighborhood, interact with human beings there (instead of just on social media), and maybe enjoy a martini that’s been shaken, not stirred.
That’s a much better reason to wake up with a hangover.