but it did.
As a westbound Orange Line subway train was loading in the Foggy Bottom station one afternoon, a late arrival sprinted toward it. He reached the doors just as they were closing.
Trying to squeeze through, the man shoved his arm between the doors up to the elbow. He assumed that this would cause the doors to leap open, as many elevator doors would.
Far worse happened. The train began to move, with the man's arm caught between the doors. The man struggled to free himself, but he couldn't. Meanwhile, he was being dragged along the platform by the arm -- and the train was picking up speed.
Cyrus Creveling Jr. of Manassas was sitting near the door in question. "I jumped up and hit the button on the emergency speaker and told the conductor to stop the train," Cyrus writes. But the train continued to accelerate, past five miles an hour, past 10, and the driver continued not to answer Cyrus's frantic shouts.
Finally, three other passengers tugged and pulled at the doors that had trapped the man's arm. At last, his arm came free, and the doors slammed shut. The near-victim was left behind, safe on the platform, and the train continued on its way. But the driver still has never answered the intercom.
As Cyrus said, "the ramifications of this story are staggering, and I am anxious to see what Metro has to say about it."
That made two of us, pal. Here's the response sent by Beverly Silverberg, Metro's director of public affairs:
" . . . .As most Metrorail passengers know, the train doors do not operate the same way elevator doors do. An obstruction does not cause them to re-open, but it does prevent the train from moving when the door does not fully close. From the description offered in this case, it appears that the mechanism did not work properly.
"We will investigate the matter further and take corrective action . . . .We will remind our operators to make sure they check the platform while they are closing the doors.
"It would be helpful if you would ask your readers to stand clear of the doors when they are closing and resist the urge to run for the train or force objects into the doors when the doors are closing.
"Also, please inform your readers that we would like to know about any incidents quickly so that we can investigate them and take prompt corrective action . . . .Our marketing office takes consumer calls during weekdays on 637-1328."
That's fine, as far as it goes. But I'm still disturbed that such a thing could happen, and I'm extremely disturbed that the driver didn't respond to Cyrus's call over the intercom. Why he didn't remains as big a mystery as the question of how the train could have moved with its doors still ajar.
Was the intercom broken that day? Did the driver just not care? Metro doesn't know and can't find out, says Beverly, because it knew nothing of this incident until I brought it to their attention two weeks after it happened. Metro thus can't be sure who the driver was, or which faulty door the last-minute passenger approached.
While it may be too late to fix this incident, Metro should certainly check all its subway doors -- and check them regularly. It should also remind its drivers that ignoring a call for help can cost a life. It almost did that day in Foggy Bottom.
When you pack up a lifetime of memorabilia and move into a nursing home, some of your photos can get lost in the shuffle. That's what happened last year to Ethel Sullivan -- and to one of her most treasured possessions, a snapshot of the "Peggy."
That worthy vessel used to cruise the C & O Canal, from K Street in Georgetown to Great Falls, during the 1920s. The ship was owned by Ethel's father, Lincoln Hilton, but Ethel was chief cook and bottle washer. She hired the crew, kept the books, made lunches for the staff and bought various equipment.
But navigation on the canal was barred in 1924, so the "Peggy" was sold. That was tough enough for Ethel. Sixty years later, it was unspeakably tough to lose her last photo of the boat she loved.
Does anyone have another snapshot of the "Peggy," by any chance? If so, Ethel lives at the Wisconsin Avenue Nursing Home, Room 817, 3333 Wisconsin Ave. NW., Washington, D.C., 20016. Many thanks from Ethel in advance.