Gary Bennett commutes from Frederick.

“Well, I guess we’re all in this together,” I said to the woman I was eyeball to eyeball with on Metro. I’ve lived in Frederick for 30 years and worked in the District, Northern Virginia and Baltimore the entire time.

As a dedicated transit rider, I’m well versed in the sardine effect that takes place on so many Metro trips and the etiquette required to get through them. I’m sure you’ve experienced this, too. Many times, I’ve been so uncomfortably close to someone else on Metro all I could do was smile and try to relieve the tension. You can’t just remain silent; that seems wrong. “I feel like I should at least buy you dinner or get your phone number,” I said to one woman, older than me. She sighed and agreed. You’d be surprised at the kinship of the downtrodden.

I’ve seen numerous perplexing events in my 30 years of commuting and been party to more than I’d like to admit. There was the time I was asked by a male stranger if I would like to have my portrait done. Now, you don’t get that kind of offer every day, but somehow it didn’t seem too unusual on Metro. I didn’t see any paints or photography equipment, but the man did seem to be relatively sane and earnest enough. After some quick calculations though, I politely declined. He moved on to someone else. After I relayed this story to my wife, she assured me that I had been propositioned. The more I think about it, I guess she was right. But then I’ve always been pretty oblivious to matters of the heart.

Occasionally, to get in a little exercise, I will walk an extra 10 or 12 blocks to pick up Metro a couple of stops from my usual one. One day it was a little warmer than I thought, and I walked a little faster than I should have, so I got onto Metro a little sweaty and out of breath. A young woman jumped up and offered me her seat. I’m sure she felt I was a heart attack waiting to happen and wanted no part of that. This was the first time I had ever been offered a seat on Metro, and I took it as a sign that my working days were quickly coming to an end. Flustered, I refused the seat and stood — even after she departed and the train was almost empty.

I’ve seen more panhandling, fights, medical emergencies and proud, loud singing than I can remember. My most memorable subway person, as I like to call them, would have to be the wayward soul who was proudly relieving himself — complete with oohs and ahhs — on the Twinbrook Metro platform in broad daylight in front of God and everyone. I have to admit that I envied his carefree abandon.

Of course, adventurous commuting is not limited to public transportation. You still have to get to the station. I estimate I’ve driven well more than a million miles to and from work in my lifetime and seen and had plenty of fun behind the wheel. I’ve been stuck in countless traffic jams, seen numerous fender benders and worse, and witnessed, but never participated in, terrifying bouts of road rage. I’ve seen other drivers (never me) do everything from reading the paper and shaving to applying a full day’s worth of makeup to front-seat companions making out. I’ve even been booed by passing motorists after emerging dazed from an accident that flipped my car over and caused a severe backup.

But my favorite driving foible has to be the one on the back roads of Montgomery County. I’ve always done everything possible to avoid as much of Interstate 270 as I can. That makes me a devotee of southbound Routes 85, 355 and 28. One day, Barnesville Road was closed because of an accident. Drivers were detoured onto West Old Baltimore Road, a pleasant enough country road. After a few miles and much to my dismay, I came upon a stream crossing without a bridge. Who knew such things still existed in Montgomery County? It is one of the richest counties in the country; you’d think every stream crossing would have a bridge. I carefully crossed the stream, got to work on time and thought my grandpa who lived and worked in the mountains of West Virginia would be proud.

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