Riding Solo

I frequently say that I love public transportation, that I could go the rest of my life without a car. Sometimes I happily list the benefits of Madrid’s great public transportation system: it’s cheap, it’s green, it’s efficient… But some days this list is quickly forgotten, and I can’t wait to be winding through D.C. traffic in Amie’s Jeep.

The other day, at 7:45 a.m., I boarded the metro, so happy to find a seat, until the respectable-looking lady sitting next to me reached in her purse and pulled out a nail clipper. I glared her way, hoping she would just use the pointy part to pick something out of her nail or maybe use it to trim a stray thread from her clothing. But no. She began clipping her yellowed fingernails. They flew through the air, landing close to my bare toes and whizzing past my face. I stared, rolled my eyes, squinted my eyes in her direction and, finally, changed seats. More disturbing is that she isn’t the only public transportation nail offender out there.

The next day, on my 40-minute bus ride to work, I strategically chose who I would sit next to. That person looks stinky. That one is drinking mate tea that could potentially spill on me. This middle-aged lady looks normal enough. I sat down. Within 10 minutes, the bus had lulled the lady to sleep. Her mouth hung open, drool threatening to slide down her face. Her head seemed to fall on my shoulder every few seconds, searching for a resting place. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the mood to be a stranger’s siesta drool rag.

I might be ready to just forget saving the environment and money with public transportation. I might just be ready to ride solo in D.C., my to-go coffee mug in a cup holder, windows down as I emit my share of greenhouse gases. It’s time I ride like a real American.


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