The Green Line is hardly what you’d call a place for relaxation.
Looking for an oasis from the hustle and bustle? Few would find it among the screeching trains and jostling commuters.
But when you have a 2-year-old, as Alix Boucher does, you take what you can get.
This Wednesday morning started with a rare treat. Boucher woke up before her son, Arthur, and was reading a book over coffee. Then it began: “Mommy, no reading. Play.”
The usual morning scramble followed, with Boucher and her husband, Phil, playing tag team: one showering and getting ready for work — Alix as a researcher for U.S. policy on Africa and Phil as a government contractor — while the other got Arthur fed and ready for child care.
Then Boucher went to catch the Green Line at Columbia Heights to get to her office near the Waterfront station, where she’d spend the day in a cubicle doing research and fielding questions as colleagues’ conversations steadily droned in the background.
Then it was back to Metro to head home for an evening of playing with puzzles, reading stories and making dinner.
Since Metro began playing music at three stations — beginning during the 2016 holiday season at Gallery Place, and later at Columbia Heights and Judiciary Square — there have been some compliments, but also complaints. Often the latter focus on the choice of smooth jazz, the soulless bastardization of real jazz.
“The torture continues. I’m still unsure what my tormentors @wmata want,” @daria_4 tweeted in January. “All I know is I need the easy listening and smooth jazz at Columbia Heights to stop.”
The pilot project, in which the online service iHeartRadio has been providing the music for free, was actually started to “improve the Metro experience.” It draws on Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld’s background as chief executive of Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, a Metro spokesman told The Washington Post in June 2017.
Someone at Metro — whom the agency wouldn’t make available for an interview last week — chose jazz from several channels offered by iHeartRadio, which also offers other genres, such as hip-hop and classic jazz.
“Smooth jazz was selected as the category because it has broad appeal,” Metro spokesman Dan Stessel said. Metro hasn’t said whether the music will keep playing when the pilot project ends in December.
Boucher is one of those who want it to go away.
As crazy as it sounds, Metro really is a respite for some people. You notice it in the near-silence of Metro cars during rush hour, with people lost in their music, discouraging conversation with earbuds, staring blankly and looking defeated.
Boucher says Metro is ruining her quiet time with the bad music.
On Wednesday morning, Boucher, who grew up in France, was trying to listen to the French pop singer France Gall on her iPhone. It was turned up as loud as she could stand. But still, in the background, she could hear a soprano sax.
“In thinking about it,” she said. “My commute is the only time during the day where I have 20 minutes to just listen to my own music without being interrupted by a toddler, or to read something quietly.”
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