Another cloudy, drizzly Monday morning. The masses slog to work aboard Metrorail. They look utterly delighted about the whole experience.
The motorman sounds even less delighted, if that's possible. "Dupont Circle, doors on the right," he mutters through the loudspeaker, with about as much zing as last night's pizza.
But just then, as you stare at all the puffy cheeks and blank expressions, your light bulb clicks on.
What if the guys who bring smiles to our faces as we roll out of bed each morning were hired to do the same aboard Metrorail?
What if Washington's morning radio wake-up men were put in that motorman's booth? What marvels, guffaws, gags and atrocities would sputter forth from the loudspeaker?
Here are the answers, folks, from the Boys of Morning themselves:
Frank Harden, WMAL-AM, partner of Jackson Weaver: "I'd say whatever occurred to me at the time. I'm sure I could come up with something interesting to say at every stop, although I'm not sure I could come up with anything attractive about the Brookland and Rhode Island Avenue stations. Some of those guys the motormen are quite interesting, though. And some of them sound like they have the mike in their pockets."
Donnie Simpson, WKYS-FM: "I'd do rap announcements. Something like, 'Thank you for riding the Metro line/If we get stuck have a partying time/Lay back and cool out as we travel down the track/As long as you're with us you could never be whack!' "(slang for uncool).
The Greaseman, WWDC-FM: "I'd sing. Waddle dee dee addle, waddle dee dee addle, waddle dee dee addle all the day. That would get the commuters' attention. They'd perk up, and then I would announce the stop in a mellifluous voice ranging from Grand Canyon depths to mountainous heights. . . .I'd throw in the occasional one-liner. Only one-liners, though, so people won't be tempted to ride beyond their stops to hear the jokes."
David Burd, WCLY-FM, partner of Jeff Baker: "Baker and I would probably have celebrities do it for us. Marlon Brando would have Metro Center. Jimmy Carter would be out on the Red Line at Silver Spring. Kissinger would get Capitol Hill, of course. The president could announce anything he wanted. Is there an Air Force One train? Well, we'd have an Air Force One train, with a snack bar and a press caboose. We'd have Emanuel Lewis running down the aisles with a giant billboard announcing stops, and if people wanted, they could hug him. We'd have the Barbara Bush Gucci train for shopping trips out to White Flint. Marty Davis could vacuum the aisles with a map of the Metro system printed on her leotard. That way, no one would miss their stop."
Jack Lynch, WGAY-FM: "I'd first check pronunciations. Most conductors butcher pronunciations. It sounds like they've got mush in their mouths. I might throw in tourist attractions, point out well-known landmarks. There are a few tourists in this town. The morning commuters might not like that, though. I really think they should tape the announcements and just let the guy push a button."
Scott Woodside, WRQX-FM, half of Elliott and Woodside: "Well, to make commuting more fun, we'd accelerate, brake, accelerate, brake. That would get their attention. We'd say, 'Good morning, you're on the Red Line -- only kidding, it's really the Blue Line.' We'd open and close the doors a few times -- let in a little fresh air, let in a little humidity under the river . . . .You know, the only reason they read the newspaper on the Metro is because there's no radio. Oh, we'd have a fun time in the morning! There would be free doughnuts on the Elliott and Woodside Express. Of course, we'd increase the fare and only make people think it was free, just like the retail system . . . .There would be aerobics for those who like, every other day. We'd give $100 to any GS'er who could bend over and touch his toes. There would be showers next to the Farecard machines! Every Friday we'd do trivia contests and give away Redskin tickets. People who wore burgundy and gold would get to ride for free. You wouldn't need passes for bikes, and animals would be allowed. The Elliott and Woodside Zoo!"
Last word goes to Dave Arlington, WLTT-FM: "I'd like to talk about the communities we rode through. If it were my job, I'd have daily themes. 'Today's theme is government offices. Did you know that in a three-block radius. . . ?' The funny thing about Metro is that it was built to work automatically, without people, except the part which could be mechanized. They could have taped announcements of stops, so people can understand them, and not leave it to chance. To paraphrase the people at WLTT, I think the Metro people would like to say, 'Next Stop, Less Talk.' "
There you have it, Metro officialdom. I can't imagine what you're waiting for.