Hard to Enjoy Metro Ride With a Faceful of Backpack

By Robert Thomson
Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I wonder if I am alone among the hundreds of thousands of daily Metro riders who face the Himalayan commuters and heel walkers. I am talking about the obnoxious folks who carry bulky backpacks to work and have no sense that anybody else is on the train but them.

They carry enough gear for a Mount Everest climb, and their packs stick in your face if you are sitting, or push against you if you are standing. They are too wrapped up in their own worlds to show common courtesy to other riders.

Then there are the people who walk on the back of your shoe heels. I have seen people with their shoes removed in mid-step as they were walking up an escalator, leaving the train or hot-footing it along the platform.

-- Michael Jacobs, Alexandria

We could rewrite the announcement that plays on Metro station speakers: "Excuse me, is that your bag? Then get it out of my face!"

It's a good idea to slip the bag off before boarding the train. If you're lucky enough to get a seat, you don't want that on your back anyway.

This is the season when my readers who take transit collect their best insults for the tourists, but Jacobs, who has been riding Metro for 15 years, says he sees plenty of regular commuters engaging in rude behavior.

It's a bad time for it, with the Cherry Blossom Festival ending this weekend. But if the pattern holds, that's just the start of the heavy-duty time on Metrorail. The major league baseball season at Nationals Park starts at 3:05 p.m. tomorrow.

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