Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Complaint Week // Complaint #3 of 5: WASHINGTON METRORAIL.

A typical ride is like an everything bagel of sucks.

Never mind the SmarTrip card readers which often reject your first, second, and third swipes; Never mind the herky jerky braking of cars which toss you about during all phases of slowing; Never mind the sheer volume of trash onboard a typical car—KFC gristle, unread Express, and half-spent Sunny D bottles, for example; Never mind the persistent breakdowns of railcars and the resultant single-tracking that never makes any sense unless witnessing seven trains headed in the opposite direction with none servicing your platform, for an hour, makes any sense; Never mind the overhead station announcements so loud and so garbled that nothing can be gleaned from them and at the same time nothing else can transpire while they occur; Never mind the same garbled, painful, staticky intercom announcements onboard the cars themselves that offer nothing discernible, in the end, for the rider; Never mind the persistent overcrowding on trains; Never mind the railcar designs that don’t seem to anticipate even a few standing passengers; Never mind the riders who must jam doors and disable doors and force the offloading of the entire train despite another train (visibly) lurking in the tunnel, its headlights glowing like two febrile eyes; Never mind the arrival boards that routinely mistake the arrival times of trains—that, or suggest the arrival of a (first ever!) two-car train; Never mind the wisdom of station managers who, with one functional escalator, freeze it in the down position, forcing all arriving passengers to trudge up the twenty-story hike to the street; No, never mind all that; What I’d like to know is, what the heck is that nasty burning smell, it smells like electrical wires afire and burnt monster truck tires and ‘incinerated bathroom’, the Metro Rail system didn’t used to smell like that but now it does smell like that all the time, especially with a train idling on the platform, and we, the riders, have to breathe that smell on a regular basis, and I mean, any thoughtful person will conclude that the smell is (1) very harmful and (2) hurting me and other riders and (3) not being addressed AT ALL.

Complaint #1: Doctors & Pre-illness.
Complaint #2: Gravitational Pull.
Complaint #4: Beer Prices.
Complaint #5: Industrial Decay.


tpw said...

Have you considered taking a cab?


tpw, sir,

i would consider taking a cab, if one would ever stop. i hail, i really hail, i am so good at hailing, i hail so much it rains and rains and rains. these are my days. i am neither proud nor ashamed but in some sort of Urban Stasis. to which, i frequently add stout or scotch.


Heather Fuller said...

Touche, touche. It is often the addition of stout or scotch that makes hailing imperative, here in B'more, where there is no Metro - but a 'light rail' - which goes out only to where rich people live or a single woman would not wander alone ... and so there is this hailing, and yet all the cabs are queued at Penn Station, waiting for a turn at a magic passenger, someone with more than $5 change, who is not standing at the corner of North & Gay, or Greenmount & Biddle, or yonder up Lafayette ... and so the hailing, if it does not induce the compounding of stout or scotch, makes one hale & hearty, or, one might say, hailingly stout of heart .... There was a time when the DC Metro, ca. 1992, tasted of tear gas ... or some such synesthesia, or comparable psychic funk ...


and, like, when a cab does find a magic fare at penn, the other cabbies wake up, turn over their motors, and advance one spot. why is it me -- i -- who nearly gets clipped at those times. like: wait til i pass, cabbie! i'm just going in yonder to jump said auto-boos, i mean train. meantime, the cabbies kill their motors and fall asleep. i guess what you're saying, hthr, is that there should be a funky subway in b'more but what i'm saying is -- the subway in dc is FUNKY. it's like five thousand little Funky Brewsters every time a train pulls up!

Heather Fuller said...

I'm sayin I concur abt the funk. It has always existed - but it is a shapeshifter of olfactory miasma. In 1992, it was mustard. In 2014, it is toilet.

B'more: incidental filler [from fllr].

And no more talk from you abt d/c'ing the blog.

Anonymous said...

wow, mister, you really have it rough, don't you! i could only read about 15 words of your "complaint" about the metro. to begin with, you said that you "swiped" your smartrip card multiple times before entering the system. hmmm, i said to myself, the dc metro cards are not swiped but kissed. kissed is probably not the right word, but yo know what i mean. in new york it's definitely a swipe, but not in dc. actually kissing in dc is much easier than swiping in ny. if you can't get your smartrip card to work, you sir are a moron. make sure you have enough money on it before you try to "swipe" it. the more i think about this post the more upset i am. i'm not going to think about it anymore. i just hope you never have to endure the hardship of mass transportation again. you should ride around in a horse and carriage, with a footman and a butler and red woolen clothing and maybe a sword.


Anon: This blog (and Complaint Week) typically falls a bit shy of serious. You seem pretty angry with me though. Humph. How about saying who you are? It's tradition here in the comments to ID ones self. -----BA


Hthr -- no more d/c ing the blog. I'm committed, despite all the Funky Brewster on mass transit. Onward! ---grtstn

Anonymous said...

Wow, mister anonymous, your complaint about Mr. Gutstein's complaint is wildly off base. You can swipe or kiss all you want, very often, and the DC shitcard will not do anything for you, so this particular complaint is verifiably real. The apparatus tells you to "touch" (not kiss or swipe) your shitcard again, or "See Station Attendant," but it will not let you pass, despite your willingness to pay an overhigh fare. And the pervasive suckiness of the Metro is quite evident to all who have senses about them. Perhaps you should travel to any other city in Europe or Asia that has a subway and see how one is supposed to work, arriving on time every 3 minutes in a state of cleanliness without risk to life and limb from nonworking safety equipment. Perhaps you have come to accept second rate services in the United States of America since they are, in fact, quite pervasive, but I feel sad that you move so quickly to put it out of mind ("I am not going to think about it anymore!"), as if there is nothing anyone can do about it. Somebody has swiped your integrity, and you have kissed goodbye to demanding value for your money!


The two Anons duke it out! There was that secretive artist Anonymous Bosch. Sometimes it's good to wear a mask, especially on the Internets (sic) but I do appreciate knowing who is who, even if it's just two initials.

That said, to the first Anon -- my blog frequently issues stuff like the "cri de coeur" of the city dweller and it is not being written (or read by others) as direly serious. The second Anon points out that the Metrorail really does suck, and charges high fares.

It is Complaint Week at B.A.G. -- full advertised as such in the titles -- and of course nobody izzn't twisting nobody's arms at any time through any of it. Wishing all the Anons well, though, in their mass transit adventures.


Anonymous said...

The godawful smell is from the brakes. First Metro admitted it, and now they deny it (to be specific, they deny still using "organic" brake pads), but whether it's a very specific set of pads or not it's still the brakes. You can get car brakes to smell quite a bit when you're driving in/around/down mountains. It's not as bad/fishy as Metro it's still in the same category of stink. Here's a little blurb about it from last year in the WaPo.
- Jeff E.

While general grossness and the sewer tunnels both figure in as possible explanations, the Keyser Soze of the mystery smell might actually be a set of organic brake pads the agency once ordered for its trains. According to this explanation, popular among online Metro obsessives, the agency’s attempt to go green backfired when new brakes it installed started emitting the dead-fish smell train passengers know so well.

This explanation is backed up by a customer service message from Metro, posted on Metro-tracking blog Unsuck D.C. Metro in September, which blamed the smell on the brake pads. The agency had already decided not to reorder them, according to the customer service employee, but was trying to go through its supply first. Metro later denied that the brake pads were still in use.

Will this mystery ever be solved? Maybe not until the smell comes back. Metro spokesman Dan Stessel claims that the organic brake pads haven’t been used for years. “When I’ve gone down this road in the past, reporting that we don’t use organic brake pads, it usually ends with me being called a liar,” Stessel writes in an email. “So, we tend to not get into olfactory matters these days.”


Thanks, Jeff. I guess there are two smells that seem to occur separately, and both may have to do with brakes. The first is the fishy / 'incinerated bathroom' smell, and the second is like a burning rubber or electrical fire smell. The bathroom smell makes me want to hurl. The electrical fire smell seems actively bad -- to be breathing. In the old days, the brakes squealed mercilessly. Lots of complaints ensued. I've ridden subways in other towns, and the brakes are not usually this much of a problem, but I could be wrong about that. In any event, prices are about to go up on Metrorail -- perhaps they will use the funds for a Funk Mitigation Effort? --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------BA

Dan "Peanut" Stessel said...

We are pleased to announce the WMATA/Pantone Smell of the Year 2014: Great Dane Onion Fart

Here is a list of some memorable smells of years past:

2013 - Gutted Deer
2012 - Hot Cheese on a Windy Day
2005 - Underwear Removed after 1 Week
1999 - Cat Poo on a Lit Barbeque

-Dan "Peanut" Stessel


The Great Dane eating Vidalias out of a deep abiding sense to deliver a Boutique Fart -- is only half the equation. Somehow METRO duplicates the parched desperation of this fine animal. We must clearly take a hard look at Alpo and 'Organic Brake Pads' alike. Thanks for your comment, Dan.


Casey Smith said...

ok, i'm the genuine and original anonymous, the one who memorably started his comment with "wow, mister." talk about panty twisting! i clearly missed the intent of complaint week, so when i complained about complaint #3, i thought i was participating in good faith. look, i ride the dc metro. it truly sucks the pizzle of a dead donkey. however, i don't know if it's worse, on balance, than london, new york, chicago, or paris. i'm sure tokyo and seoul are much better, same with berlin. my initials are CS, but my friends call me casey. i agree with complaint #4 wholeheartedly. the profit margin on beer must be approaching that of movie popcorn. i paid $31 for three beers last night, and two of them were 12 oz goblets. i can buy two 30 packs of natural ice for under $31. i can also buy a 4 pack of beck's sapphire for $3.99 at progresso mart in mt pleasant.



ahahahahaha! that's a relief. i thought you might be an angry ex-girlfriend or something. well, you did write "if you can't get your smartrip card to work, you sir are a moron." that made me think you were actually angry. it's hard to tell "tone" in this environment. you can complain about my complaints. that's all right with me. i just thought you wuz a snippy stranger, or forementioned ex.

duly noted about the beer tab. the beers were good, though. i liiiiiike beer. it's gooooooood.