Just because someone works for a company doesn’t mean he or she can solve your problem.

Last night the Red Line trains from DC toward Silver Spring were unusually crowded. When such things happen, the people crammed into the train car tend to remain silent, with exception to a few rambunctious tourists or a couple of people jabbering on their cell phones.

I lucked out yesterday to grab a seat in the elderly/handicapped spots near the doors. I was reading an interesting article in the Washington Post about Palin’s attitude toward the media when a man’s voice interrupted my concentration.

“Excuse me,” said a tall man wearing prescription glasses (“Glasses”) to a shorter man in a tailored pinstriped suit (“WMATA guy”). “But I couldn’t help but overhear that you said you work for the metro. Is that true?”

“Yes,” answered WMATA guy. “Why?”

“Well I’ve got a problem I was wondering you could help me with,” said Glasses.

My mind flashed ahead guessing all the things Glasses might ask for: directions, advice on smart trip card issues, if a rumor about the WMATA board was true, what was happening with plans for the purple line, etc.

“I think something is wrong with the email metro alerts,” said Glasses, because I only recieved an Metro Red Line Alert (cleared) message today but without first getting an alert message.

“There is no problem on the metro right now,” replied WMATA guy, seeming to think Glasses was concerned there may be a reason for the train back up.

“I can see that,” said Glasses. “What I meant to say was that I ONLY received a notification of it being cleared, not of there being something wrong. I think something is wrong with the system. I’ve tried to reset it but I don’t know if that will work.”

WMATA guy paused, then said “well, I work on the same floor as the IT department so I’ll tell them about it tomorrow.”

Glasses, seemingly satisfied with that answer turned back to his book to read. WMATA guy shifted his briefcase to another shoulder and turned toward the doors.

How often, I wondered, does this poor guy have to handle complaints from riders about things he has no control over. How often does he have to be a sounding board for idiots who are too lazy to make a phone call to the proper WMATA office?

All of a sudden I understood why the WMATA Board members rarely use the system.