April 23, 2001

Keep on the Sunny Side: The Right Side

As mentioned earlier, I take my daughter to school on the Metro (DC’s subway). Well, actually, I take both of my daughters to school. When commuting downtown with a 4 1/2 and 3 year old at 7 in the morning, you never know what to expect. What are my fellow passengers thinking of this trio of two highly-charged youngsters and one aging adult? Despite my daily scans of their faces, it’s often hard to tell.

horoscopeOn our better days we bake cookies and read books. But mixing make-believe ingredients can quickly change to sibling screams as one invades the other’s space. I don’t know if trying to keep up with my children’s energy is the cause of my morning lethargy or Mother Nature whispering “it’s old age” in my ear. It’s a constant struggle to be attentive and awake, while trying hard not to encroach into the private worlds we sit next to.

The last couple of weeks our journey has been complicated by the fact that the elevators at our destination are out of order. This means I have to use three escalators to get to the surface. The first day they were out of commission I had to quickly devise a strategy for safely getting both kids and the double stroller to the top.

The oldest actually listens to her daddy and is good at following directions (a wonderfully typical first child and God’s way of making sure you’ll want to have another). With supervision she can get on and off the escalator with no problems. I hold my 32 pound youngest in one arm and the stroller with my other hand as we all go up together. Only once has someone offered to help me but luckily each escalator is a short ride.

So here’s the problem. There is an unspoken, but sacrosanct ordinance in the DC Metro that one should always stand to the right on escalators to let others walk past you. With the advent of the Vernal Equinox and the cherry blossoms comes the tourist season. Without any official signs announcing this rule, map-toting out-of-towners have no idea they are in violation and subject to, at best, snears and at worst…

I’m just happy to have control over two children and a stroller. But, in order to do so, I must take up the entire width of the escalator. Friday, as I neared the end of my morning ordeal, just a few feet from the top, I heard a distinctive commuter grumble just behind me. I turned to him and said: “I have no choice, the elevators aren’t working.”

He looked at me and uttered the words I feared most: “You’re a tourist, aren’t you?” I have to admit, I sure looked like one: faded jeans, backpack, two kids, and a stroller. Only my job ID, resting quietly in my pocket, would have saved me from this. For once I wished I had been wearing it around my neck, a civil service accessory no one should be without. I was shocked! Without thinking twice I retorted: “I am a Federal Worker!!” like I was wearing a Purple Heart on my sleeve, wounded in the line of active duty!

The intensity of my declaration surprised even me! “And even if I was a tourist, you should think twice before saying something like that.” By this time we had reached the top and he started to apologize. “Yes, you are right,” he said as he walked away to his job. I wanted to ask him just what he did that made him want to get to his highly-paid cubicle so quickly. But all I could wish for was that he’d think about this the next time he saw a parent traversing the Metro with children.

There’s a dark and troubled side of life
But there’s a bright and sunny side too
Though you meet with the darkness and strife
The sunny side you also may view

Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side
Keep on the sunny side of life
It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way
If we’ll keep on the sunny side of life

empty spaceThe Whites

View Most Recent Story:::Notify me when there's a new missive!

Related Posts with Thumbnails