I like Unsuck DC Metro a lot. I read everything they post with interest because I often learn something. I also enjoy the fact that they are pretty much dedicated to holding WMATA accountable and WMATA knows it. When they speak, WMATA listens. However, yesterday I thought they done goofed on a post and I have to call them out on it.
Unsuck DC Metro had a post yesterday titled "Lurching: A Created Danger?" and it was a continuation of their past complaints about trains jerking forward - allegedly - without warning. I was a little surprised that the folks at Unsuck DC Metro pursued WMATA on this instead of offering the obvious solution (that we'll get to in a minute) to their readers.
The issue is simple - often conductors pull up short of their spot on the platform and are forced to move the train a very short distance to rectify the situation. For some reason the train doesn't move slowly and smoothly forward for short distances. As many of you know it jerks forward with the force of a space shuttle launch and then abruptly stops. It's quite amazing how many "Gs" they can generate in eight feet of train advancement.
At Unsuck DC Metro they point to the danger this maneuver poses to riders who aren't properly warned that it's about to take place. They say the conductors almost never warn the riders. My experience is different on the Orange line. I'd say 99 percent of the time they do announce the short shuttle launch before it happens. They may have a different experience on whatever line they ride - that's entirely possible and I won't quibble with them over that. However, the warning doesn't really matter if you're a perceptive, smart metro rider - which most of you are not.
The key to not being thrown across the train when it suddenly leaps forward ten feet is to use the handrails provided all around the train car to hold on. I know - it's such a simple solution that I don't know why no one else thought of it before today. I'm not sure I'll get a Nobel Peace prize for this, but a pat on the back could be in my future.
You see, I learned early on that the trains are rather unpredictable and that unless those doors are open, the train could move at any moment - announced or unannounced. I'm not the asshole who has to run to the door as the train enters the station to be the first one off. That asshole doesn't think he can make it to the door after the train stops in the thirty seconds or more allotted by the conductor. He doesn't think he can make it ten feet in a minute... let's hope he doesn't run marathons.
And because assholes who must get to the door before the train stops are in transit from their once secure position to the door, they're not usually holding on when the train occasionally shoots forward at the speed of light. They get thrown back into strangers because they're impatient and imperceptive dicks. I often see people properly holding on and following the unwritten rules of the metro injured by these morons who aren't holding on. Three weeks ago I saw a huge dude annihilate this woman's foot because he couldn't be bothered to wait for the train to stop before heading to the door. The train pulled up short and he was thrown in to her because he chose not to hold onto to the rails until the doors opened. Her day was ruined thanks to an asshole.
I can't say it enough - warning or no warning if you're holding until after the doors open, you'll be fine. It's your responsibility to be alert and defend yourself against WMATA's general crappiness.
I did read on the post from Unsuck DC Metro about one whiny little baby's account of his girlfriend smacking her face on a pole when the train lurched forward. She was holding on, but she was holding on incorrectly. She was likely body f*cking the pole instead of simply gripping it with her hand at arm's length. Her face should have never been close enough to the pole to smack in the first place and there's a couple reasons for that. The first reason is that the pole is disgusting Zudipus lollipop! People's nasty ass hands are all over that thing all day - why the hell would you put your face within three feet of it? Second, no matter what, your body and everything attached to your body is going to move roughly a foot or so when the train moves - even if you are holding on tightly. Please plan accordingly and give yourself space between objects harder than your face. Think of the whole "is your hand bigger than your face" trick when figuring out how you're going to hold on. And for God's sake stop humping the poles - this isn't a Good Guys audition!
The other major offenders in this situation are those who listen to music on the metro. The have their earbuds in and can't hear the conductor make the announcement that the train is moving forward. They're always taken by surprise when the train launches forward three feet and it shoots them ten. I know that most of the time the conductor has nothing of interest to say, but every once in a while he gives you a little pertinent piece of advice you might want to hear. Just watch the people on the metro with headphones on when you go home tonight - clueless assholes. Don't be one yourself - turn the music down and listen.
Bottom line - metro trains are going to lurch. If you hold on to the rails properly until the doors are open, you'll never have a problem (other than motion sickness) with lurching. Act like an asshole - and you might break your ankle or someone else's. Don't be an asshole - hold on.