Stop Harassment Now

Harassment 2

I took this photo on the Washington, D.C. Metro. 


“If It’s Unwanted, It’s Harassment.”


Only a day or two later, some ladies came to me complaining that they had been harassed on the Metro.


Apparently, they had been on the platform waiting for a train and a young man was first staring at them, then coming around them menancingly, and then following them. 


Thank G-d, they got away, but it was a frightening situation that left them wanting to actually move away. 


Residents in the metro D.C area and customers of Metro should not have to ride in fear. 


We need more police and surveillance cameras on the Metro system now!


Signs are a great reminder, but law enforcement action is what is really needed and called for. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Safeguarding D.C.

Gas Cylinders
I took this photo the other day of a truck loaded from front to back with compressed gas cylinders in downtown, Washington, D.C.



I understand that there are strict safety regulations for this. 



Although with this truck just sitting out on the street, appapently not moving or even attended as far as I could see, I was a little concerned. 



At the same time, coming to work today, there was someone marching down the street yelling “Allah”–again and again–sort of talking to themselves yet screaming something that wasn’t intelligible, at least to me. 



Not that there is anything wrong with freedom of expression, but it just seemed a little wild and scary on the darkened streets. 



I couldn’t help think about this gas truck with all these gas containers from the other day…and are we keeping things as safe as they need to be. 



We take a lot for granted in terms of our security, but are we perhaps getting a little overconfident so many years after 9/11 now. 



Hopefully, we’re all good, but we need to be careful, vigilant, and safe! 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A One Taxi Town of HELL!

Taxi
So coming back from vacation today was a tear.



We had an early flight–before dawn–and when we woke up, I called the town’s single cab company to confirm our early morning pickup (of which the reservation had been made the prior day by the front desk manager at the hotel). 



When we awoke the morning of the travel, I called the cab company to confirm they were on their way.



A man picks up the cab company’s phone and says curtly:



– “I am the dispatcher and also your driver this morning.”



– “I have another person to drop off near your location and will be 15 minutes late.”



Upon which he just hangs up, and we readjust our schedule slightly.



Then I receive a text message 20 minutes early that says the cab is downstairs. 



We rush downstairs, but there is no cab.



15 minutes later he arrives.



He says in a commanding voice:



– “Don’t you put the luggage in trunk, it can damage my computer [we don’t know what computer he was talking about].”



– “Shortest person sit behind me!”



We look at each other at how strange this cabbie is behaving, but again it’s the only “game in town.”



We get in the back seat, upon which he proceeds on the “dispatch computer” set up in the front seat to ignore us with mild apologetics and  works to handle calls, texts, and other people arrangements, while we are waiting in the back [already late because of his prior excuse] to get to the airport.



After what seemed like forever, he turns to me and says, “How are you going to pay?”



I ask, “Can you take a credit card?”



He says, “Yes, but the card reader may have interference at the airport [from this tiny airport, really?], and the ride will be 50 bucks!”



Realizing he was playing some sort of game with us to rip us off, since this was a meter cab, I try to explain that it seemed he was overcharging us saying “Well, we took a cab with you company from the airport just the other day and only paid around $40 and that was in a snowfall [today were clear skies and roads], so I’ll pay you the same $40.”



He turns angrily to me this time, and says threateningly, “You‘re trying to lowball me!  How about I just drive you around in circles and charge you by the meter even more?”



At this point, we could tell this guy was seriously off his rocker, and I try to deescalate this and ask, “Why are you giving us such a hard time with all of this?”



He seemed to calm down for a second as he was ostensibly trying to figure this out, and said okay, “We’ll do the meter [and you’ll pay]!”  



Now we were running late to the airport, this driver had our luggage hostage in the trunk, and he has threatened us to take us for an unwanted tour of the city instead of to the airport and overcharge us or potentially even make us miss our flight altogether.



I looked at my wife and daughter and they were clearly understanding the danger we were in of losing the flight, luggage, and so on; but as we discussed later, they were afraid of even worse physical danger from this person. 



He starts the car and with the dispatch computer screen still open [he angrily slammed open and closed the laptop multiple times], he drives on the highway while simultaneously, still working on dual duty as dispatch…we were terrified.



About halfway to the airport, he turns to me again, and says “Okay, I’ll turn the meter off [before] 40 bucks and you pay me 40!”



Afterward, my wife told me she thought he was going to pull over before 40 bucks and just drop us off somewhere in the middle of the highway.



I ask, continuing to try and calm this guy, “I don’t understand how can the meter be going higher than when we made the same trip in reverse in a storm just the prior week?”



Note, there wasn’t [barely] another car on the road and unlike in big cities, there was no signage with the driver’s picture, name, identification, etc.



He says, again in a threatening manner, “Oh I can also take the back roads to get you there cheaper, but you wouldn’t want me to do that, would you?”



Then he pauses, thinks again, and repeats, “Just pay me $40 cash {and he reaches to turn off the meter).



Soon after, we reach the airport terminal, and the taxi driver jumps out, dumps our [hostage] luggage on the side and holds out his hand. 



I gladly give him the $40 and thank G-d that we are at the airport and safe.



This was really an eye-opening lesson about what can happen when you are in the car with someone and they are in total control over whether you get where your supposed to go, make it in time, get your things, and get out safely.



In these small towns, it is no help that the cab company is a monopoly and probably the dispatcher/driver is probably also a part owner and maybe even has friends at the local airport, hotel, police, and the courts, etc.



I don’t think for a second that we were his first victims, and hope that people reading this will help make this his last! 



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Chaos On Metro

Metro
Sheer chaos on the Washington, D.C. Metro this morning. 



A water main break suspended the running of the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines.



The Metro spokeperson told me pointing with his hand up to his the neck that the water was filling the tunnels and getting way up there–nice!



At the same time, disabled trains on the Red line brought things to a “Major Delay,” followed by the offloading of crowded trains because the conductors couldn’t get the doors shut.



At the stations themselves, numerous escalators were out of commission, you can see them at boths ends of the station here, and the people were backed up all along the platforms. 



At one point, I got caught on the edge of a platform with a huge crowd pushing up against me, and had to tell the person behind me to take a step back (that I didn’t want to end up on the tracks, why thank you, and believe it or not, so not-so-nice people actually laughed at that!). 



Unfortunately, it didn’t take much to see how most of this city can be brought to a snarl or taken right out of commission. 


After 9/11, one has to ask, what have we learned as the Capital of the nation that our basic infrastructure and support systems cannot endure the ups and downs of weather and age, let alone G-d forbid another attack on our soil. 



Hopefully, someone will wake up and step up the planning and preparations here, rather than just spending trillions abroad and with what results. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Metro Opens (Wrong) Doors

Metro Opens (Wrong) Doors

MetroOpensDoors.com is a website name for WMATA trains in/around Washington, D.C.

So this was Metro opening the train doors today.

Unfortunatey, it was the wrong doors–the ones facing the tracks, and not the side with the platform.

I took this photo with the doors open on the wrong side.

I wondered what would have happened if the trains had been full and someone was leaning up or against the doors–they could’ve actually fallen off/out of the train.

Where exactly are the safety features so this doesn’t happen?

Anyway, we ended up being offloaded from the train, but at least no one that I know of ended up as train kill. 😦