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Dear Metro executives,

I have a very simple solution for you to cut costs instead of making us pay higher fares. Hire more people. Seriously.

A WMATA employee recently suggested to me that the metro is hemorrhaging money because it allows its employees to rack up thousands of over-time hours a month  rather than hiring new employees. I mean why shouldn’t you hire someone when you are already paying another person a time-and-a-half rate to stay on the clock?

If this is true, it’s the most asinine thing I’ve heard. The metro should hire more people and eliminate managers who allow employees to rack up overtime like a slot machine.

I understand that WMATA had a couple of major unexpected costs in recent years, what with the HUGE metro train accident and the winter storm that cost it rider fares and snow removal expenses.

In addition, the metro board never really thought out prior to implementing the SMART trip card that people would take advantage of the fact that they could get off the metro with a negative balance. I’ve had plenty of out of town guests over spend their card and then leave town.

But my biggest frustration today, in thinking about the metro and the state of Maryland raising transit fares, is that the metro clearly is improperly managed.

My conversation with that metro worker kept reappearing in my mind all day.

So again, here’s my suggestion to the metro board.

Instead of making it nearly impossible for low-income families and the unemployed to get into the city or surrounding areas, make a few hundred employees unhappy by cutting their annual income down to five digits instead of six digits, and spur the existing economy by hiring more workers to take up the hours that you are making your current employees work.

The other day, I stocked up my yarn closet to ensure I’d have enough to keep my hands busy over the snowstorm.

Imagine my delight in finding a brand of yarn that uses 20 percent post-consumer recycled polyester from plastic bottles. Better yet, it is some of the softest yarn I’ve found at chain craft stores.

Currently, I’m crocheting a wedding gift for my sister who is now engaged to a fantastic guy.  I’m using two yarns a kind of muted rose/pink and off-white to make it. Perhaps because of what it’s made of, the blanket is going to have a heavy, snugly feel. 

Caron makes the yarn and it offers a rainbow of color options available online. The local AC Moore in Rockville, Maryland, sells it in about half a dozen colors.

Anyway, I’m hopefully heading home from work early because they are predicting the area will get up to two feet of snow, and then I’ll be braving a drive up to Baltimore to spend the weekend with my boyfriend. Wish me luck.

Oh, and if you’ve heard of any other yarns that are going eco-friendly, please let me know!

Have you ever avoided getting in a cab because you see the vehicle bears the scratches and dents of a fender bender? Yet have you ever heard yourself saying to a cab driver: ” I’m in a hurry so the quicker you can get there the better.”?

I have.  But until a cabbie started ranting about it to me the other day I failed to realize how often they are asked to hurry. The cabbie told me that he’s sick of being stuck with red light camera tickets and speeding fines for a couple of extra dollars.  Since then, I’ve tried to refrain from mentioning my time crunch when I slip into a cab.

I also have this fear that the cab will get in a car accident. As a result I’m always surmising from the outside and inside of a cab what I believe to be the driver’s recent road record. And in the interest of full disclosure, I’m always a little disappointed when I get in a cab that is slightly run down… just because I like to feel posh.  Silly me.

Today, for example, I climbed into a dark blue cab that on the outside seemed to look safe enough. Yet when the driver started moving I heard this grinding noise of metal on metal and felt every little bump in the road to the point that my back started to ache. The guy was driving fine but his car wasn’t in the best condition. It felt like his alignment was off and that something was loose under my side of the engine. I tried to ignore the rattling noise until we arrived at my destination near Georgetown.  It was with a sigh of relief that I paid the driver my $6.50 and exited the car at my reporting event.

Oh and one more thing. Even though I’ve lived in the area most of my life, I never know how much to tip a cabby. If the trip is bad, I usually give them a dollar but if they get me there fast and without making me reach for the “oh sh*t handle,” I sometimes give them $2.

On Friday night I caught a cab from near DuPont Circle out to Glover Park. I didn’t end up leaving the guy a tip and he made a noise of disgust at me that sounded something like the air being let out of a tire for a split second. I felt guilty when I realized I’d failed to tip the guy but from the way he acted it didn’t make me feel too bad.

Still, I must admit that today I gave an extra dollar to a cabbie just to get my cab Karma back in sync.

So last night I got a call from my landlord at 9 pm. I was still working at the office so it went to my voicemail.

Apparently he wanted to get into my apartment this morning to make some repairs that the housing authority told him to do. The housing authority toured my apartment about two weeks ago.

This week has been hectic. I’ve had choir practice/dress rehearsals every night. In addition, this is a short work week (therefore my story deadline was moved back a day) and two reporters who share my beat are on vacation… the perfect storm. In other words, my place is not tidy. In fact, I’ve been lucky if I get 5 hours sleep each night.

The place is cleaner than usual but not enough for me to be comfortable with my landlord traipsing around the place.

I was at work until about 9:30 last night. And when I got home I ran around the house making sure all potentially “embarrassing” items were tucked away in in drawers/trash/laundry bins.

But I didn’t have time to wash the sink full of dishes, clean off the couch from paperwork and unsorted mail or pick up cookbooks, novels and crochet books that were strewn around the living room, among other things.

URG.

My landlord is pretty low maintenance. He doesn’t bother me very much and I appreciate that. The downside is that he isn’t very good at telling me things I need to know until the last minute–if at all.

I’m not sure what he needs to fix in my apartment but I guess I’ll find out.

So this morning I locked my dog in the bedroom — and by locked I mean I stuffed a t-shirt in the crack of the bedroom door when I shut it. Ran around the back yard to make sure my dog hadn’t left any little smelly gifts, and dashed for the bus.

I’ve made it through the worst of it now.

I have tomorrow off from work and a concert in the evening but I’m going to spend most of the day tomorrow cleaning. Oh and I’m picking up an “older Danish-style upholstered chair”–whatever that means… form someone using freecycle. I need another chair in my living room so I can put away another folding chair.

Today I started my Saturday morning early to get some chores out of the way.

It was about 9:30 and I was listening to the radio when I turned my car into my driveway. I live in Takoma Park which has a few parks nearby but I’m not living next to any.

So I turned into my driveway, which enters from a road behind my house, and I saw a red tailed fox sitting there in my parking spot on the half gravel, half grassy ground. I paused my car for a second and tried to process what my eyes were seeing. My dog slightly resembles a fox. She has blondish-red hair and so for a second I thought it was my dog and that she had somehow gotten outside. But I realized it was a red-tailed fox.

The creature stared at me for what felt like 10 seconds and then sauntered off. I pulled into my parking spot and suddenly became concerned it had rabies. I slowly got out of the car and looked around the corner of the house. The fox was standing there. It turned its head saw me again and left the yard.

“Good,” I thought, “the fox is afraid of me so it probably doesn’t have rabies.”

Then it hit me. I had just stared directly into the eyes of a red fox with my windows down and about 5 feet between us.

It was a beautiful moment that made me miss my childhood days living on 7 acres of land where a family of red foxes lived in the thicket behind our home.

Do you ever find yourself wondering why you feel awkward in a situation?

This morning on my way in to work I was in the right-side “standing” lane of the Metro Center street escalator.

My mind was in auto drive until the girl directly ahead of me turned her body to face in toward the escalator, not up toward the street. Huh?

I felt a little weird when I realized she hadn’t done so for the standard reason, to see when she could step into the “walking” row. There was no one climbing the escalator steps.

I told myself it was because she was from out of town. But she didn’t act or look like a tourist.  She was dressed in business attire, she wasn’t looking at a map or gawking at her surroundings. She generally looked completely at ease in her surroundings.

I tried to act like I didn’t notice so I looked around. Until that morning I hadn’t really noticed that everyone else on the escalator was facing forward. I told myself I was being silly for letting it freak me out that she wasn’t matching the worker’s commuter morning norm.

I’ve seen people turn in when there are other people to chat with or when they had a little to drink late in the evening, but I was completely thrown off by her.

We reached the top of the escalator and we headed different directions.

That was it.

I  do not understand how the city’s metro system can handle more than a million riders on inauguration day but finds itself crippled when it comes to a couple of snow days.

Today is the second day we’ve had snow in these parts and I’ve found myself crammed into metro train cars with other work commuters, stuck in tunnels and at stations for nearly 10 minutes several times in one trip, and more Red Line “alerts” in my email inbox in the last two days than I think I accumulated in the last month.

What happened?

Did the metro cut back on staff because of school closures? Did they assume that less people would come into work? Are more people taking the metro because one of the spouses needed the car for the day to take the kids somewhere? Did more people take the metro to avoid driving in icy conditions?

I’m not sure and I’m not really upset. I’m just confused about the cause for 11 or more minutes between trains, crowded railway platforms and delays, delays, delays.

If tomorrow is another snow day, I’m seriously considering driving into the city to avoid the icy conditions on the metro.

p.s. I promise I will eventually write a follow up story to the inauguration festivities.

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