The DC Metro: It’s Not Baltimore (Baltimore has a metro?)

After kicking and screaming along the DC beltway, I decided to try my commute with the MARC train and DC metro. I’m not new to public transportation. When I moved to Baltimore for graduate school, I sold my Honda Civic and navigated Baltimore’s best and worst neighborhoods using the local bus system (sometimes I pretended to be a Hopkins student and caught a free ride on their shuttle), Light Rail, Metro Subway, and the Charm City Circulator.

More often than not, however, walking was more reliable than public transportation, but either way, I survived without ever being stabbed, robbed, or raped (although I was often harassed by men).  But that’s because I had a series of rules, which I rarely broke:

  1. Do not look anyone in the eye
  2. Do not talk to strangers
  3. Do not respond even to a “hello” – you do not want to initiate dialogue or let your guard down
  4. Always walk like you know where you’re going
  5. Always wear a frown (what I like to call the “don’t fuck with me; I’ll kill you” face)
  6. Never accept help
  7. Always be aware of your surroundings and stay away from “suspicious” characters
  8. Always leave yourself extra time and have a back-up plan – public transportation is anything but “reliable”

What do I consider suspicious? Am I too dependent on stereotypes? When it comes to my safety, I don’t care. If anything makes me uncomfortable, I remove myself from the situation. For example, one time an older gentleman sat next to me on the Baltimore metro and started talking to me even though I had my headphones on and every other seat was empty. He wasn’t threatening me, but I didn’t want to be bothered, and he was making me uncomfortable. I simply acknowledged him, stood up, and walked to another train. He didn’t follow me. Continue reading