It’s one thing when your boss warns you not to wear flip-flops. It’s another when WMATA does it. But a recent post on the new Metro Forward blog, designed to improve communication with passengers, veered into fashion police territory. “Consider saving flip-flops for the beach,” was part of the advice offered alongside a photo of two sorry sandals extricated from Metro escalators.

I’d normally be offended that Metro has the gall to question my favorite footwear. Washington summers are so sweltering and sticky that sometimes I think I couldn’t survive without freeing my toes.

But I’ll let it go — mostly because the blog is probably right. I know this because a few years back, I was headed into the McPherson Square station when I let my right foot slide to the back of my flip-flop just as I reached the bottom of the escalator. Bad move. Before I knew it, the comb plate grabbed the shoe, and I was standing there half-barefoot while watching the flip-flop flap. With a quick tug, I managed to yank the piece of rubber out just as the machine ground to a halt.

My sturdy shoe weathered the incident just fine (thanks, Old Navy!), and my train was coming. So, I’m ashamed to admit, I snuck away from the scene and never told anyone what happened — until now.

I realize I should have alerted the station manager. I also realize I was lucky it was a sleepy Saturday and no one was behind me, not only because they’d have witnessed my utter stupidity, but also because they could have been injured by the sudden stop. Metro escalators have enough technical difficulties of their own, and my compounding the problem with a foreign object was in particularly poor form. (Although, in my defense, this was way before the current widespread escalator woes. And I was young and stupid.)

Does that mean I don’t wear flip-flops on Metro anymore? Hardly. I can’t kick the habit that easily. But I’ve learned to lift my feet up when dismounting an escalator and to stop playing with my shoes. It’s better for my soles, and as long as I can continue my streak of not breaking any more Metro escalators, I think it’s better for my soul as well.

Photo courtesy