- (Photo: flickr/tspack)
"...this train will take up the entire length of the platform," the Metrorail driver's paced, deep voice crackled over the WMATA intercom yesterday afternoon. "Make sure you take the opportunity to spread out."
The lively voice accompanied riders of the New Carrollton-bound Orange Line train yesterday evening around six o'clock. A comedic punctuation underlined the ways he repeated the phrase "spread out" and encouraged people to not crowd around one door but to use others. "See a car that no one's using?" the operator asked. "Consider using that one."
He invited Metro riders in a crowded car to hop in another. After all, he would again point out, "this train covers the whole length of the platform."
Metro riders smiled at each other multiple times as the operator made his wry remarks, which would have been pushy if not so humorously pointed. On yesterday's dreary, rainy day, his buoyant strangeness was a welcome distraction. He was clearly a performer and would be especially talkative as we arrived at transfer points like Rosslyn, Metro Center, and L'Enfant Plaza (which he took special care to pronounce with a faux accent). Two old men had begun talking with each other about how interesting the announcer was. As people piled off the train at L'Enfant, the woman next to me was chuckling and said, "He is too good!" At one point the announcer's statements had the entire car exchanging glances and smiles. I've heard people allude to some particularly funny operators in the past and wonder whether the Orange Line announcer I heard was the same man described here in this DCist post from 2007. Martin Austermuhle described the "raspy voice; a slow, almost purposeful way of enunciating each and every Metro station." The description sounded right. Have you experienced the joys of this man on your Metro commute?
And yet for all the operator's words about how we should "spread out" along the platform, he also offered us riders praise. The moment we all boarded succeessfully and the doors closed, the intercom crackled to life. A pause hung in the air for a split second before his slow, drawn-out words escaped: "Exceeellllleeennnttt." You could practically see the man's smile.