Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Rainy Monday Metrorail Disaster and the Resulting Mass (and My Own Minor) Disruptions

Passengers trying to breath on a Metrorail Yellow Line train stuck on a blacked out, smoke-filled train car a short distance south of the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, Washington, D.C., around 3:45PM January 12, 2015.

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There was a catastrophic "mass casualty" incident on the D.C. Metrorail system involving a smoke-filled, blacked-out Yellow Line Metrorail train on Monday afternoon that killed at least 1 person and left 80+ injured, 2 critically, and that resulted in the closure of the nearby L'Enfant Plaza Metro. It also caused massive system-wide disruptions through Monday night.

The cause of the incident has not yet been revealed.

As an aside, the incident also dramatically altered the course of my typical Monday, nixing the usual night time gym visit.

It was a real disaster and, it certainly appears at first blush, that Metro fucked up royally and horribly negligently in how it handled the situation in not getting those people off that train much more quickly than happened.

A shaken man leaves the smoke-filled L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2015.

This is literally yards from where I work.

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As an aside, this Yellow / Green Line route from U Street / Cardozo through L'Enfant Plaza is exactly the way I go to work nearly every morning. Returning, I tend to mix it up more since I live fairly centrally located.

Instead of any real answers, I suppose we can expect more of the usual dumb-ass canned announcements by Ronald "Ron" Pavlik or James "Jim" M. Dougherty about keeping our Smartphones safe from "snatching" thieves (apparently, the security-theatre state lives for silly and self-evident public service announcements, but it isn't so good at actually saving people's lives in real emergencies), or how close-toehoehoehoehed shoes on the escalators are the say-fest. (I realize it's petty and not germane to this discussion, but sometimes I really can't stand that dumb-ass Maryland accent.)

A man gets oxygen following his ordeal on the Yellow Line train overwhelmed with choking smoke near L'Enfant Plaza, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2015.

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Metro couldn't rescue anyone in time because its goddamn third rail was "hot and energized" and it apparently took a DC-style fucking committee forever to (1) turn it off and (2) decide that it was safe.

This is the same Metro that takes 28 months to fix a single escalator.

A D.C. firefighter escorts a woman from the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2015.

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Anyway, as a result, I didn't even try to take the Metrorail home from any station. Instead, I opted to walk home -- and Andrea and I decided just to get an after-work drink. This also meant nixing my usual Monday night gym visit. (To be honest, I was also not looking forward how Monday night crowded the gym would be this January given all those not-yet-dead New Year's resolved resolutions.)

Andrea walking along 7th Street NW in Chinatown, Washington, D.C., 6:12PM January 12, 2015.

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This turned out to be a good decision because the street-level situation alone was quite chaotic as we walked toward Chinatown with people trying to go to different stations, catch buses, or just walking home. (The Red Line was the one line not directly impacted but it was certainly mobbed, and I didn't feel like dealing with it either. Walking the just-under-2 miles home was really the only option for me.) I have to say that it is amazing and troubling just how sensitive and vulnerable our entire civilization is to the slightest disruptions. Oh, and the throngs and umbrellas and the dazzling outdoor flashing, shifting advertisements in a Chinatown section gave the whole scene a sort of Blade Runner-feel.

Yours truly under my umbrella on a showery night, CityCenterDC, Palmer Alley NW, Washington, D.C., 8:19PM January 12, 2015.

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Andrea and I walked with Andrea through chaotic Chinatown to a restaurant called Vapiano, which I quite liked. We caught the tail end of happy hour and where Imara showed up a bit after 630PM.

I had two drinks -- that sparkly white wine -- and two pieces of pizza from a pizza pie that Imara bought.

I started walking back toward Dupont Circle but I stopped into a thinly-crowded Cuba Libre. I had one of those caipirinha drinks and then continued on my way -- through the sprawling, hyper-upscale yuppie-boomtown development called "CityCenterDC" and its main pedestrian "drag" named Palmer Alley NW. To be clear, that name has no relationship whatsoever to the street grid system or anything, and at this point, I have no idea why it is called that.

Palmer Alley NW, CityCenterDC, Washington, D.C., 8:21PM January 12, 2015.

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On my way home, I stopped at No. 9, Thereafter, I walked in the cold, showery-rainy night back toward home via the 1400 block of P Street, where I stopped at No. 9 for a drink. I had one drink but couldn't do the second one and instead just walked home.

Yours truly again under my umbrella on a showery night, CityCenterDC, Palmer Alley NW, Washington, D.C., 8:21PM January 12, 2015.

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Whereas yesterday I had a number of text messages with Betty Ann, my second cousin and daughter of my late great Aunt Babe (whose funeral is on Jan. 24th, which would have been her 102nd birthday), today I had as many text messages with my mom (whose last day at this crappy law firm job in Severna Park, Md., where she has worked as a legal secretary since June 1984 -- yes, June 1984 -- ends this week).

Re. the weather, there was actually a two-hour delayed opening in D.C. this morning because -- in completely and characteristically absurdly reactive style to the previous trivial winter weather "event" -- it was 35F with a cold showery rain and that warranted a  Level 6 Weather Terror Alert.

We actually had about 3/4 inches of rain in D.C. proper. Specifically, the event and calendar day total was 0.75" at KDCA. There was also 0.70" at KBWI, 0.62" at KIAD, and 0.66" at KDMH. However, the rain has now ended and no additional "weather" is forthcoming for days including the winter sort (read: snow).

Yes, there is, like, a one-billionth of a percent chance of a "rain / snow shower" on Wednesday, but that's more bullshit.

As for the gym, as mentioned, I skipped it tonight, and I suppose I'll be, like, 300 pounds tomorrow. Anyway, having said that, I am probably not going to try to go to the gym tomorrow but instead will wait until Wednesday, and then go again on Thursday and Saturday. That will still allow me to keep my overall weekly schedule the same.

Rainy night in the "city beautiful" at the intersection of L and 11 Streets NW and Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 8:32PM January 12, 2015.

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OK, that's all for now. I'm probably not going to update this blog until late Wednesday or early Thursday. Oh, yes, workwise I should be fine for the time being.

--Regulus

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