Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Obnoxious Metro station encounters, Dupont Circle edition

September 1, 2011 - 05:00 PM
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Transit chuckleheads. (Photo: YouTube/SomeShoots)

A public transit system like WMATA inevitably puts people in contact with dozens of strangers all the time. This can be a pleasant experience on occasion — I talked about the unifying power of strangers on a train a few weeks back.

But then there's the gross deluge of humanity that you inevitably see, the strangers who feel the need to make a point or to burp or make other bodily noises far too near your space. There's creeps and people like this. Metro stations inevitably become public spaces to some extent, with music and newspaper bins and flyers. One Metro rider featured an account with a group of people she describes as "jerks" in the following video. 

Who are the jerks? Political punks standing outside the Dupont Circle Metro station entrance, ready to parade their signs in front of pedestrians and Metro riders alike. "Chess partners for equality," one sign reads. Another declares, "Pen-pals for equality." One of the demonstrators smugly explains, "Oh, it's certainly satire."

You can guess where this is going, I'm sure. Within minutes, the chanting group begins talking of how "the marriage between a man and a woman is special." Sure, whatever, all right. Yes, you're mocking the idea that gay people deserve equality. Community is good, causes are good, and so on, but more often than not, incidents like these feel like intrusions in a person's day and on their commute. Clearly that's the case in the video above, in which the woman walks away in disbelief calling the people assholes. Reactions differ depending on whether the commuter agrees or loathes the message, but they're always inevitable intrusions that we, as a free society, resign ourselves to dealing with.

One sad reality of transit is precisely encounters like these. The sidewalk is totally fair game for proclaiming your feelings, carrying your signs, and making yourself known, even if you feel the need to announce yourself as a chess partner for equality. Isn't free expression wonderful?

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