Monday, July 19, 2010

Washington Post "Seat Hog" Article

Dear reader(s), it has been far too long since I have posted to this illustrious forum. In that time, service has gotten worse and fares have gotten higher. With the realities of Metro problems staring us all in the face, the Post has decided to give front page attention to the "problem" of seat hogs. This article can be found in its entirety at (

Sir Ride-A-Lot takes issue with this phantom problem and defends the actions of his fellow riders finding that, in general, Metro riders are courteous and accomodating even under very trying circumstances (some aren't...and you know who you are). He therefore has sent the following e-mail to the author of this article. Enjoy and please send me your comments.

Good Morning Ann:

As a co-writer of the blog The Well Red Commuters ( (with the alias Sir-Ride-A-Lot) and a daily Red Line commuter for well over 12 years, I can sadly say without reservation that commuter's behavior on the Metro is one of few things for which I can call myself a bona fide expert. As such, I feel I am well within my expertise to take strong issue with you regarding your "seat hogs" analysis.

In my vast experience, for the amount of overcrowding, breaking-down, surly treatment by Metro officials, fare hikes, faulty equipment, etc., etc., which can be experienced on a daily basis in the Metro System, Metro riders by and large should be commended for taking things in stride. The so-called "seat-hogs" I have seen are very rare and generally come in the following four basic categories: One, the man (almost always a man) who spreads his legs beyond the center line of the seat for no apparent reason; Two, the young person (generally high school, but also drunken college and twenty somethings) who gets on, slouches down, and spreads out like he/she is on his/her couch at home (and generally begins to immediately and frantically text God knows who); Third, a tourist family which is on vacation, having a great time and forgetting that, yes, people do work around here; and fourth the passenger who has a particular fondness for the aisle seat and/or has gotten up to let a rider get out and has failed to shift in.

Now, it has been my experience that any passenger from one of these categories of "seat hogs" can be easily restored to civility with an equally courteous "Excuse me." It's simple, if somebody is taking up more than their allotted seat simply say "Excuse me, could you please shift over" or "Excuse me, may I sit in that seat next to you." I have had to do this I would guess two hundred to three hundred times in my Metro riding career and most passengers are happy to comply with my request. In fact, I can only think of two or three instances off-hand when somebody was anything but courteous.

In light of these anecdotal but thorough observations, I would ask that in the future front page stories in both The Post and The Express categorizing Metro riders in a negative light be based upon actual facts rather than the need to fill a paper on a slow summer news day. While I understand the desire to bash Metro - since in many cases it is well deserved - inaccurate depictions of Metro riders in a prominent paper such as The Post create a false factual record and do a severe disservice to the riders of Metro, as well as the Washington region itself. Somebody reading this article either now or in the future would get the mistaken impression that Metro is packed with rude, selfish, mean-spirited cretins. While your article may make for good reading by those who want an excuse not to take Metro and stay in their cars, I'm pretty sure this in not what the goal of the area's newspaper of record should be.

So, in the future, I would beg you that before you bash Metro riders, please get your facts straight. If you need a source to report on what actually happens on Metro, I remain your humble servant. I would also ask that you check out our blog. If you do you will note that we have not updated it recently because - to be honest - nobody was looking at it and blogging into the abyss is just kind of sad. However, on behalf of myself and my colleague the "Red Rider" we would be happy to ramp things back up if there was an audience out there.

Thanks for your time. Have a great week.


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