My column of Oct. 16 contained a complaint from Linda Rabben about rowdy teenage behavior on Metrorail. Ms. Rabben suggested that teachers instruct students how to behave on public transportation. She made no mention of the role of parents in teaching manners.

That touched off some passionate letters from teachers, who say that they have enough to do and that this should be a parental responsibility. Please read on.

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The letter from Linda Rabben about rowdy middle school students on Metro was way off the mark. Since when should schools be responsible for teaching Metro etiquette outside school hours? Doesn't she think schools are given enough curriculum material to cover?

What about those people who are supposed to be the most influential teachers in a child's life: the parents? Yes, the same people who your column says should be responsible for teaching driver education.

The message seems to be that parents should be in charge of teaching their children how to drive a big piece of machinery, but please don't ask them to teach their children manners.

Joanna Bopp


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I've never seen groups of adolescents do anything really over the top, such as threatening passengers, vandalizing the train or physically assaulting one another, but "running around and screaming" seem to be common behaviors.

A group of two or three teenagers can get loud. But when four, five or more of them ride the train together, they feel like they have to put on a performance, for each other and for the benefit of everybody else on the train, and that's when it becomes a genuine disturbance of public order.

Glib use of foul language and shouting and shrieking are their way of making sure they're the center of attention, both within their group and among the general public. They're just putting on a show, mostly to show each other how cool, wild and crazy they are.

I don't think Metro police can do much about those disturbances. A police officer could sternly lecture the youths to keep the noise down, and they'd say "Yes, sir" or "Yes, ma'am" and then redouble their antics as soon as the officer left the train. There's no stopping the exuberance of youths or an adolescent's desire to be the center of attention.

Christopher Schroen


Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read the column about rowdy juveniles on Metro ["Facing Metro's Precocious Terrors," Dr. Gridlock, Metro section, Oct. 16]. I think most of the time teens unfairly get a bad rap.

For every young terror who attracts attention with his or her antics, there is probably at least one other youngster the same age who's just politely minding his or her own business and who, therefore, never gets noticed. And for every teen who is inconsiderate, there are several adults who are equally bad -- just in different ways. Cell phone users, anyone?

Andrea Shettle


Dr. Gridlock understands teachers who feel that they already have enough to do in the workday and that parents should be the ones primarily responsible for educating children about manners on public transit.

However, some parents are not models of teaching or supervising. A teacher might take a moment in the day to underscore good manners on Metro.

Jobs, Commutes Change

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I am responding to the letter from Terence Heron of Arlington regarding living close to where one works ["For God's Sake, Move Closer to Your Job," Dr. Gridlock, The Alexandria-Arlington Extra, Oct. 13]. My wife and I live in Alexandria, three miles from Reagan National Airport. For years, we both worked at National for the same major airline. During that time we used Metro, and I would bike to work.

I now work at Washington Dulles International Airport. What does Mr. Heron suggest for us? Move in the middle so that both of us have to commute?

His view would work if there were only one breadwinner. It sounds as though he is assuming that half of the couple stays at home.

There is not one solution to commuting. Each family has to come up with what works best for it. I am approaching retirement, and it makes sense for us to stay put.

Keith Calhoun


Living close to one's job is difficult in a two-income family. People change jobs and job locations. Then what?

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

After regularly reading the advice in your column to live where you work, I finally must comment.

How many homeowners -- journalists and politicians excluded -- have had the same job location for 10 years?

How many of those are completely confident they will work at the same location for the next 10 years?

And how many spouses of those have had and expect to continue to have the same job location? And are both working at the same location?

To Terence Heron, who wondered "Why are people living in Rockville and above and driving to near Dulles to work?" [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 13], could it be that the Rockville job location closed and moved employees to Dulles? Something similar happened to my family.

Do you know of sufficient housing in Tysons Corner whose prices are commensurate with the salaries of the sales associates employed at the local malls and stores?

Jo Mozingo


It is difficult to live close to one's workplace, for many of the reasons you cite.

Blue-Bubble Exemption

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

Two days ago, I was motoring at 9 a.m. on eastbound Interstate 66. HOV-2 regulations were still in effect. From Manassas to Nutley Street, I was in front of a four-door Ford with a male driver inside, one or two extra aerials on the car and a blue, bubble-shaped light on the dashboard.

Was this a policeman in a unmarked car? I would wager that it was. He was in the HOV lane, all by himself, all the way to Nutley. If he is a police officer, is he exempt?

Jed Duvall

Amissville, Rappahannock County

The use of blue lights is supposed to be restricted to law enforcement. Fire equipment and ambulances use red emergency lights.

Because unmarked police vehicles come in all forms (Prince William has used sports cars), I'd assume that was a police vehicle. And if so, yes, law enforcement is exempt from Virginia HOV restrictions, whether on or off duty.

If any of you are aware of a vendor who sells blue lights to the public, I'd like to know about it.

Transportation researcher Diane Mattingly contributed to this column.

Dr. Gridlock appears Thursday in The Extra and Sunday in the Metro section. You can write to Dr. Gridlock at 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. He prefers to receive e-mail, at, or faxes, at 703-352-3908. Include your full name, town, county and day and evening telephone numbers.