Teenage Train Terrorists

I have a friend who lives about as far from the PG Plaza metro as I do from the Shaw metro. He drives to the metro, parks in the garage and takes the metro into the city. One (but not his only) reason for doing so was to avoid the Northwestern High School kids. When I was commuting into Maryland I would encounter some Northwestern boys who I swear were trying to see how obnoxious or how ignorant they could be, loudly. Occasionally an adult, who wasn’t the bus driver*, would turn around and rebuke them. Very occasionally, because most of us just wanted to get to our destination and tried drowning out the degrading sex talk, the ignorant racism, and glorification of violence. Currently, my commute rarely has teenagers, and the offensive chatter regarding Latinos, the Plan to keep the Black man down and other theories, is at a lower volume.
Yesterday, I had some Christmas related shopping to do and was heading home around 6pm on the Green Line to Greenbelt. At Mt. Vernon Sq. three screaming yelling teenage girls boarded onto a crowded car. They remained loud and decided it would be fun to bang hard and loud on the Plexiglas partition during the ride. I’d been finding the ride home weary 2 stops before since I transferred at Gallery Place, and couldn’t wait to get the heck out of the system. Doors open and apparently the girls decided to strike out at everyone disembarking. They called the tall black man in his 30s or 40s and ‘old man’ and the thin 20-30 something woman behind him one of them snatched at the woman’s midsection.
I don’t know if they were trying to poke the woman in the stomach, or snatch something off of her person or what, but I turned around on the platform and verbally confronted the two girls who were on the door side of the partition.
“What is wrong with you!” I asked.
*giggle* giggle blah blah something. Probably an insult in there.
“What is wrong with you? Are you all right? You know what you did was wrong!”
“What you gonna do about it? Hit me?” one of the girls responded.
“No, I’m not going to hit you, I’m telling you, you did wrong.”
“You did wrong.”
*Door chimes*
One girl made a lame attempt at a kicking motion, but I was a good 4-5 feet away. The door closed with them still giggling. My heart went out to the poor people stuck on the train with them on the way to U Street and points beyond.
In practice metro riders tend to tolerate even the most obnoxious verbal abuse, no matter how racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, ignorant, or hateful. However, don’t you think that when it turns even slightly physical it should be called out?

* I have long ceased to belive Metro drivers will stop people from doing anything obnoxious or illegal, except when they have to move people to get a wheelchair on.

4 thoughts on “Teenage Train Terrorists”

  1. The teenage females are worse than the teenage males. That's why I keep my eyes on them, especially on the Green Line. Robberies have increased and I still see Metro riders tuning out the world with their electronic vices. One thing about me, I never travel alone on the Metro, I never leave home without it. If you know what I mean! It's me or them. They will eventually 'try' folk minding their business.
    The Thuggish Observer

  2. I had a similar experience on the green line once. 3 or 4 teenage girls boarded the train and were very loud and unruly. They opened one of the emergency doors at the end of the train and then one girl started slinging small handfulls of candy (something like nerds) down the corridor in the 40% full train, not aiming for anyone in particular. At the shaw stop I got up and with my back to them started to exit, when I was hit square in the back with a handfull of candy. I didn't expect this as I had been minding my on business, so I turned and just glared at them and then exited. I was mentally moving on and about to the escalator when an empty plastic bottle whizzed past me. I also felt sorry for the people still on the train. I thought about telling metro about it but didn't think they would care or be able to do anything.

    It wouldn't surprise me if it were the same girls from your story.

  3. I dread going through the P.G. Plaza station every day after work going south on the Green line. That's where the loud girls and boys get on, and I think they get off at Gallery Place to bless the city with their joy. Usually it's when I get off work early, between 3 and 4 (when school gets out). Most of the time they're just loud, but sometimes I really appreciate a quiet ride home.

    There is one kid who panhandles and then gets offended and lippy when you don't give him money. I guess he's trying to shake down UMD students, but it doesn't work on bitter 'ol me.

  4. Good for you for talking to them even if it takes years for your words to sink in…

    I used to think the Wilson H.S. students were the worst, and I contacted the principal (who said she has no jurisdiction off school property, which seems reasonable). Now I mentor a Wilson H.S. student, and she behaves the same way given the chance.

    I think there is too much poverty in DC to make it an easy fix. I also see an imbalance in comparison with other states: DC overspends on Medicaid at the expense of the schools. (Seriously, anyone with DC Medicaid can have an MRI of their toe or a motorized wheelchair without any administrator raising an eyelid. In NC, by contrast, Medicaid provides a worse "safety net" and there is more incentive for people to find jobs with better health insurance. The public schools, while not outstanding, are less dangerous than DC schools, and it's possible for smart kids to go from a DC public school to a Duke or UNC.

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