>After writing my senior thesis on Ghanaian rhythm in daily life, I have definitely found myself more in-tune to the unique rhythms I’m sensing in the places I’ve lived. New York has a defined rhythm on its streets; there is a constant sense of urgency as people walk. This urgency is especially abundant when hoards of businessmen, tourists, and starving artists alike collect at red lights and are eventually set free by that little white walking guy, letting them move uniformly across to the next block, only to be caged up all-together again at the next junction.
DC is different. It’s smaller, less crowded, and these hoards don’t really exist on street corners. They’re underground.
The first thing I realized when traveling during rush-hour in the morning is that most people know the exact time the metro is arriving. I obviously don’t put in enough effort to figure this out myself (they come every four minutes…), but I don’t even need to. When I see people literally running down the escalator, I follow. The train’s a-comin! This tactic usually works 80% of the time.
There are instances when some punk starts running for the hell of it, (or just to play it safe incase he doesn’t have four minutes to spare) and then people see said runner and start to question their knowledge of the metro times. Result? They start running too. Before you know it, everyone is running down the escalator, only to finally see they still have three minutes before the train is actually arriving.
Another interesting robotic rhythm I’ve learned here is the correct way to use the escalators: walkers on the left, standers on the right. I’m not sure who started this rule, but somehow word traveled fast. Some escalators are REALLY long (ehem Dupont, Tenleytown and Bethesda) so I’m able to do “escalator intervals”-my creative invention. I start walking up the left side until I’m “feeling the burn,” and then I simply move to the right for a break. I rest for a few seconds, then get back on the left and walk again. It really is quite the workout.
Last note about the escalators. Oftentimes one of the two escalators that lead people in and out of the metro needs to be repaired. To solve this problem, while one is being repaired, the other turns off and becomes a two lane set of stairs (insert famous Mitch Hedberg joke here if you know it). This makes sense, but oftentimes there is only a heavy flow of traffic in one direction. Still (stillllll), a huge line will form on the platform as people slowly make their way up the shut off escalator, leaving a whole half wide open for a sporadic three or four people to conveniently make their way down their respective side. Not once have I seen a guy skip traffic and run up the escalator on the left. Not once.