Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Next Stop Metro Center

No rats spotted in DC

When in a new place, riding the metro, subway, or underground can be intimidating, especially if there is an added language barrier. It is, however, one of the best ways to learn about the culture of the city you are visiting. Underground you can see if a city's people are generally busy, leisurely, causal, uptight, clean, respectful, loud, or quiet. You can also see their threshold of spacial proximity to one another: how close they stand and converse. If you are observant you can more easily navigate cultural norms that are new to you. People or places will seem less strange and more exciting. Who knows, you could pick up some habits you find more suitable to your personality too.

In Manhattan no matter where I was or what I was doing - walking in the street, hailing a cab, or riding the train - my coffee and iPhone were in hand. It was normal to see many a busy Manhattanite doing the same. We were always on the go and saw the commute as a time to eat, drink, rest, read, and get from point A to point B.

So much character in NYC

On our first day in DC it was 3pm and I was in dire need of my afternoon pick-me-up. So we whipped into Starbucks and (aahhh) my coffee was in hand. Without thinking we jumped on the metro. As we rode along G-man noticed that everyone around us was giving me the evil eye. Then we noticed a poster saying "this is not a diner" and below no food or drink allowed. eep!

I was obviously a tourist and obviously offensive. How easily this could occur! This shows how important it is to be observant when traveling (not to mention as a young lady it's safe to be observant). The smallest things are different from place to place. That is what makes travel so great. You see the nuances of other places and learn something new about yourself.

I will miss bringing you everywhere
While I thought it was strange that people do not have coffee on the go, Washingtonians thought I was strange to imbibe coffee in a public place. As I was busy getting defensive, immediately thinking these people are unsophisticated and freaks for not wanting caffeine, I was reminded that Parisians would never be caught dead drinking coffee on their metro…


  1. Yea, I took a desperate Starbucks on the Parisian metro once - never again! And the time I got locked out eating a croissant.. having a metro attendant say, "Oh please, whenever you're done eating breakfast" sarcastically will cure you of ever wanting to eat in public.

  2. I'm not sure Washingtonians AREN'T unsophisticated freaks, but either way, another reason not to eat or drink on the metro: the ticket for it is not cheap!

  3. Tyler, I had a similar experience in Paris! haha You really have to take advantage of the cafe culture there and not be in a rush to eat or drink. Or as you found out, you will be publicly shamed. :(

    J, The jury is out on the level of sophistication here. I saw that about the tickets! Yikes!


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