Thursday, December 4, 2008


The train pulled into the Farragut North station, half of the cars dark, with a placard on front saying "Special." I had just enough time to process the thought that I'd never seen a train labeled that way when the door to one of the dark cars slid open and a woman stepped out. She was dressed head to toe in black, with a stocking cap on her head and a very, very large gun in her hands.

That was when I stopped breathing.

She stayed on the platform for perhaps ten seconds before she stepped back onto the train and the doors slid closed. And then the train began to honk. I didn't even know Metro trains had horns. The sound was deafening, echoing through the station. The other passengers on the platform began to look around uneasily. The train slid forward about fifteen feet and the door opened again. The woman stepped back onto the platform.

There was activity behind me. I hadn't even noticed the man with the gun, standing at the door of the next car down. Two other men quickly began pushing money carts, like those you see in casinos, off the train and around the corner, then pushing other carts onto the train. There was a sense of urgency and tension that was almost palpable. I was afraid to stare, but couldn't look away. I started breathing again, mostly. The woman and the three men stepped back onto the train. The doors slid closed and the train pulled out of the station. They were gone.

I'd never given the least bit of thought to how Metro moved its money around, but now I guess I know.

The sense of general unease and nausea stayed with me for the ride home. I get motion sick on Metro anyway, and the two glasses of wine I had at Science Club weren't doing me any favors either, but this was different from usual. For the first several moments, while my brain put the pieces of what I was seeing together into a coherent picture, I was paralyzed by fear. My brain locked onto the one image--gun. Really, really big gun.

I spent the rest of my trip home in a fairly introspective mood. I thought a lot about what it means to live in or around DC and about the fact that I more or less accept the fact that we might as well have a big old bullseye right over downtown. That was my first thought, you know. The woman was, I'm sure, a Metro police officer, but the first reaction of my panicked brain was terrorist. From my vantage point, I couldn't see a badge or other insignia, and it was a really, really big gun. And it's been said before that transit systems would make great terrorist targets.

I have more thoughts on this, but I'm saving them for tomorrow. It's late and I'm too tired to be introspective anymore.

1 comment:

Jenni said...

I used to see the money train all the time when I worked late. The machine guns are totally scary.