Through the Fire and the Flames

After a long, hard day at the office, I was real excited to go home and grill me some pork loins. My mouth was practically salivating by the time I got to the Farragut North platform at 5:30. I had just missed a train and in typical Metro fashion, the next "rush hour" train wouldn't be arriving for another six minutes.

In those six minutes, people continued to pack themselves like sardines. My thoughts had switched from anticipating sweet pork tastiness to fearing how packed the next train would be. That's when I noticed the smell. Something was burning.

I wasn't the only one who noticed it. My fellow commuters were all looking around anxiously, sniffing the air to detect more sulfur. Then smoke started coming out of one of the tunnels. Great.

Here's where this gets interesting. No one reported the smoke. The station, especially my side towards L Street, was still filling with smoke and all people would do was hope and pray that our train came before there was a crippling Metro delay. Our safety had taken a back seat to our impatience. We would have rather sped through a fireball in the tunnel then wait around for twenty minutes underground. I suppose years of Metro delays will do that.

The story has a happy ending. Our train came and my car had enough room for me to stand comfortably. The doors remained open for a few minutes, presumably a delay tactic to fix whatever was wrong. In those few minutes, commuters kept nervously making eye contact with each other. These silent urges to get the train moving aroused feelings of shock and empathy. Shock because people are finally at the point where we're willing to take risks to get home a few minutes earlier. That's kind of crazy. Empathy because, despite all logic and reason, I'm one of those people.


  1. So you must be one of those people who will dart into a rail car after the doors have begun closing, risking being crushed and further delaying everyone else while the conductor considers whether to release the doors, or start the train and drag you to your richly deserved death, rather than wait 3 minutes for the next train.

    This is a clear indication that the human race has evolved beyond the point of usefulness. The survival instinct has taken a back seat to the (admittedly strong) barbecuing instinct. I, for one, welcome our new ant leaders.

  2. Rusty, you and your fellow Metro passengers are out of you cotton-picking-minds! Nov 19, 1987 - 32 people died in a London subway fire. Look it up. Also, in your situation, I would’ve been more afraid of the smoke than fire. In a raging tunnel fire, you'd likely die of smoke inhalation/asphyxiation long before the flames got to you.

    Lastly, I wouldn't have been overly nervous in your situation until the crowds started packing in behind me....group stampedes in panic situations can be quite deadly as well (hello, European soccer matches anyone?). Scary stuff.

    PS: Pork is gross.

  3. Rusty, I would have done the same thing.

    Jamie, evidentily 99% of the people on the platform with Rusty felt similarly, and they don't all run smack into the closing doors (although that would be hillarious to see).

    FUCK metro.

  4. Rosslyn station smelled pretty foul all day Monday. No fires, though. lol

  5. I was there at the same time. Apparently, some one decided to burn some newspaper to the north end of the station. So, I did a pretty similar thing to you and just moved down to the other end of the station and pretend like nothing was wrong. Though I did start to get worried as the smoke built up a little.....

  6. I wouldn't report any damn smoke either. Metro absotively posolutely cannot deal with any problems whatsoever. A few years back, a guy in the car I was riding in had a seizure. It took forever to get EMTs down there, and the train didn't even move after they had gotten they guy onto the platform for treatment. As far as I'm concerned, the guy is off the train, you can move.

    But I'm much more crotchety than your average rider - I go 3 stops out of my way every evening just so I can get a seat and do the stupid typo-ridden Express crossword.