Metro officials deny its existence, but this column is investigating rumors that the subway system's fancy electronic control system has a device that senses when a passenger is in a special hurry to reach his destination, and responds by causing the train to break down.

What other explanation for what happened yesterday morning on a Blue Line train en route from Rosslyn to Washington?

First came a series of the ding-dongs and a bumping of the doors. Then the operator asked the passengers in the rear car to help close a door that apparently was stuck open, immobilizing the six-car train.

"Oh, no!" mumbled a pretty young passenger, Sabine Krueger, on her way from Crystal City to an appointment near Foggy Bottom. "The irony is that this never happens unless I'm in a hurry."

John Bateman, from Whittier, Calif., looked at his watch and worried about missing an appointment at the Commerce Department.

And I was on my way to a Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) meeting. The delay until the disabled train was moved and the next train moved in was no more than 15 minutes, but disruptive to the whole line.

The episode points up one flaw in the design of Metro's Rosslyn station. If you're stuck and need to call your office -- or the person you're going to meet -- the nearest telephone is at the top of the Western world's second-longest escalator.