Less than a year after taking Metro’s top job, General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld has shut down the system in unprecedented fashion, shaken up management, initiated a massive rebuilding project, pushed for more visible policing, dealt with public and media outcry over high-profile crimes and mishaps, and gone toe to toe with Congress over the troubled transit agency’s safety and reliability. What’s he gotten in return– other than a lot of headaches?
But it’s a nice T-shirt, gotta say.
Josh Edgar, 23, said he got the idea to put the Metro boss on a T-shirt from a Reddit forum after people there were applauding Wiedefeld’s management shakeup. Someone wrote, “In Paul We Trust.” Someone else said, that ought to go on a T-shirt.
So Edgar, who lives in Tysons Corner on the Silver Line, grabbed a screen shot of Wiedefeld’s official portrait and set up shop on Cafe Press with two models, each with Wiedefeld’s mug on front and a different slogan on the back: “He’s on fire, so Metro doesn’t have to be,” and “Doors opening. Step back to allow bad managers to exit.” His haul of the proceeds will go to two charities in a 50-50 split: SOME (So Others Might Eat), a D.C.-based organization that helps the poor and homeless, and the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore, which provides entertainment and support to the U.S. military personnel.
Edgar, a technology consultant who moved to the region from West Virginia four years ago, said he didn’t want to make light of the sort of problems that have led to injuries and even a fatality in January 2015. And he’s mindful that the shakeup meant that real people were losing their jobs.
“Definitely, when I made the slogans I tried to take care to not be too inflammatory . . .because these are real people,” Edgar said. “While I’m sympathetic to the fact that they lost their jobs, they had a responsibility and for years they failed on that responsibility. . .It’s a teachable moment.”
Edgar said that if there’s any downside, it’s that the T-shirts are a little pricey. They come with a $3 markup on top of what Cafe Press charges to make them — the site also takes a commission, he said — and so the charities will receive only a fairly small cut of the overall price.
Despite some press — NBC4 did a quick hit on it late Tuesday — Edgar said Wednesday that he’s sold only 11 T-shirts and a hoodie so far. But, hey, that’s still more than the region and Congress have set aside as a dedicated funding stream for Metro…