Thursday, May 20, 2004

COMMUTING: Is Escalator Etiquette a Symbol of Our Mean City?

According to Dale Rose of College Park, those of us who get worked up over tourists standing on the left side of Metro escalators need to chill out. It is a symbol of our mile-a-minute me-me-me culture.

From Rose's letter to the editor published in Thursday's Washington Post:
The story about riding Metro escalators ["Standing on the Left? You Must Be on Vacation," front page, May 17] was an example of the "me first, me only, and to hell with everyone else" mentality prevalent in Washington. Never mind that walking or running on the escalators is against Metro's rules; the level of rudeness portrayed by the Washington area residents in your story is unjustifiable.

Visitors are doing nothing wrong by using Metrorail. But, even if they were, they deserve our respect and help, not our scorn. The behavior suggested by the founders -- "destroying everything in your path" -- is especially appalling. Are they serious?

Walking on an escalator probably saves at most one minute. We could all break this cycle of rudeness if we gave ourselves 60 extra seconds to board the trains. The generosity of spirit would make our lives and the lives of those around us less stressful.

I'm curious as to whether Mr. Rose's letter made any sort of impact on people reading the Post on the Metro on Thursday morning. Was there some sort of escalator catharsis? Or did they think that Mr. Rose was a big tool with the "generosity of spirit" line. Imposing idealism on Washington is foolish. Adding to the city's cynicism is not.


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