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My otherwise 15-minute commute to work took 3 hours this evening, but I swear I’m not complaining. Really. I’m actually a little shaken up. During rush hour, someone allegedly leaped in front of a moving train at Clarendon station. Naturally, this brought on significant delays and complications for the metro transit system, which is incompetent with or without passenger interference.

It’s fairly easy for me to gripe about D.C. metro service and trains, but I was worried rather than bothered as I attempted to head home for the day, especially after a Farragut West metro station employee informed me that a guy had jumped onto the tracks. In other words, he’d intended to end his life. According to The Washington Post, he didn’t succeed. As of 7:24 p.m., the fellow was still alive. Much time has passed since then, and while I know nothing of the circumstances of his life, I pray that he recovers from the incident and gets the help he clearly needs.

What I find peculiar, however, is how news sources and the majority of WMATA personnel phrased the situation:

Person struck by metro train
Train strikes man at Clarendon station

Both articles allege that the man “jumped in front of the train”, but their passive headline titles suggest accidental collision, as if such a fate was thrust upon the man. As far as I know, he has yet to explain himself or release a statement, so none of us know for sure whether he was on a mission to pass away.

I am relieved he’s still with us, but was more concerned about my own health when the trains were running slow. Hundreds of people swarmed the Rosslyn underground metro, which was completely packed for a half hour. You couldn’t even exit. It was then that my claustrophobic tendencies surfaced, and my heart rate experienced a noticeable spike. The only thing keeping me calm was my Blackberry, which I used to check Twitter updates on the situation, take photographs, and text friends to distract myself. Here’s what the overcrowded platform looked like after everyone offloaded the train to Rosslyn:

Metro riders had the unique misfortune of getting stranded at Rosslyn station, which is known for it’s never-ending escalator.

Here is video footage of the journey up the escalator (NOTE: this wasn’t taken today):

The escalator to street level is reportedly the third longest continuous span escalator in the world, so imagine tackling that when it loses power. That’s what we were forced to do today. I’ve run up this exact escalator before, but obviously with the support of moving stairs, so it was slightly challenging today.

Thankfully, the climb wasn’t nearly as exhausting as I’d anticipated, and everyone actually rooted each other on as they trudged up the stairs. I felt like I was back in junior high P.E. again after telling the breathless old dude to my right, “You can do it! Keep going!” Some of us sprinted the final stretch, bringing me back to my high school track and field days. At track meets, my ex-boyfriend always shouted, “USA!” and ran full speed to the finish line during his final lap of the race. Ending strong was his thing, and I can see why.

After that, I walked a mile to another metro stop, which was slow but functioning. By the time I finally arrived at the apartment, I was on pins and needles. I sometimes panic in enclosed areas, especially when I haven’t eaten or consumed water in a while. Luckily, I’m improving at the whole “mind over matter” thing as well as aware that everyone else around me is equally nervous, so I’m happy to consider others during crises. At the end of the day, I’m thankful that I love my life and all the people in it so dearly that I could never throw myself in front of a train. It’s my hope that the troubled fellow finds inner peace and solace if he did indeed want to kill himself. He has my sympathies.

As I waited impatiently among the masses at the Rosslyn station today, I overheard many passersby yelling about the manner in which the guy tried to commit suicide.

“How selfish could a person be to do such a thing during RUSH HOUR?”

Oh D.C. and its entitled residents (Oh dear God, I sound like my colleague Matthew Boyle! If he reads this, he’ll be proud, as he disagrees with entitled, smug D.C. folks who refuse to pull over for ambulances and fire trucks.)

In the past, I’ve said similar things about suicide victims. It’s a selfish choice. Undoubtedly, but the person behind the act clearly felt so helpless and ill that he/she couldn’t exist anymore. They’re out of sorts, so troubling others is the least of their worries. Besides, we were inconvenienced for a few hours this evening, but the nuisance has long since run its course. We can get back to our daily commute in the morning. The trouble is out of our lives. Can the same be said about someone who apparently wanted a public death?

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