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As I approached, I realized that this wasn”t just a normal MCI Center event. This was something special. Jamming the sidewalk, and spilling over onto the street, were thousands of overweight suburban soccer moms, with feathered hair and “Property of Jesus XXXL” t-shirts. I was entering the Metro system with 10,000 happy Christian females.
I skittered along the edges of the crowd, to see if I could get ahead. At the top of the escalator, there was a GROUP organizing around its leader. Instead of holding up a placard with the group”s name, or a colorful umbrella, this leader was holding up a Christian fish symbol stapled to a paint stirrer.
I decided to take the stairs, deciding in my head that this would be quicker. Turns out that wasn”t exactly the case. After taking 5 minutes to get down 2 flights of stairs, I discovered what was holding up the group. One of the conference attendees, on metal crutches and with leg braces, had decided to bypass the elevator and the escalator in ORDER to take the stairs. It was definitely shaping up to be a long evening.
At the entrance leading INTO the Metro platform, there were lines about 40-50 people deep coming out each of the 20 turnstiles. There were another couple hundred people at the station”s fare kiosks as well. Once again demonstrating my lack of respect for tourists, I skittered along the edge of room, and worked my way in behind a happy Christian mother and her happy Christian family trying to get through the turnstile.
The youngest daughter”s fare card was returning the “stop, take this card to the station manager” error, that means there isn”t enough money on the card or the magnetic strip is dead. Her not-so-happy Christian mother pulled her out of the way, and pushed her elder daughter through instead. While the turnstile was still open FROM daughter number one, she than tried to push the 12 year old through. The doors closed on the little girl, boxing her in the stomach.
After trying the errant card again, the mother turned to the girl, obviously disgusted at the inconvenience, pointed at the station manager kiosk (which is 50 feet away, on the other side of 10,000 happy Christian females) and told her to work it out with the station manager.
The 12 year old (and I for that matter) looked at her like she was crazy, after which the mother (again, obviously disgusted that the girl can”t to anything for herself) snatched the bad card out of her hand, shoved the little girl through on her own card, and started barreling through the crowd at the station manager. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I can”t tell you what happened next. I went through the turnstile, and started wadding down to the platform.
As you might expect, the platform was packed, and the train I needed didn”t SHOW for 18 minutes. When it did show, it was packed. Nothing really bad happened over the next 45 minutes… besides the previously disclosed overweight happy Christian soccer moms with feathered hair. And considering they were happy Christians, they did not seem particularly happy.
Once in the parking lot at Greenbelt, I sprinted to my car, not wanting to get caught up in the exit queue. And it worked, sorta. I was number three in line (behind a white mini-van, and a red hummer, both with Jesus Fishes attached to their backsides) at the left most exit lane, when things started (or more correctly, continued) to go horribly awry.
Turns out the White Mini-van didn”t have a SmartTrip card to use, and she was in a SmartTrip only lane. So she sat there. For a while. Finally, the attendant to the other lane abandoned his post to see what was up. Now, no one is going through either of the lanes. At this point, each exit lane was backed up with 15-20 cars.
The attendant talked to the driver of the mini-van, and it turned out that she not only didn”t have a SmartTrip card, but she didn”t have any money at all. So, she got out of her car, and started filling out a “I don”t have money” form on the hood of her car. This, apparently, was the last straw for the happy Christian female in the Hummer.
At this point, each of the lines were 30-40 cars deep, and the Hummer has about two feet on either side of her bumper to begin executing a three point turn. Now, where she is going, I had no clue. And for those of you who don”t know, Hummer”s can”t DO three point turns in four feet of space.
Somewhere around point 29 in her three point turn, the happy Christian Hummer paused, and assessed the situation. Turns out, she knew exactly where she was going: there was about a 3 foot green embankment that leads back to the parking lot, and in turn to other exits FROM the station. Right as she was reving her engine for the onslaught, the previously stuck Mini-van got her stuff in gear, and finally proceeded through the exit.
As you might guess, at this point, the Hummer is 90 degrees removed FROM the exit, and was blocking up the works so that neither she nor I can get out. For the record, the now 50 cards behind me couldn”t get out either. Over the next several minutes, the happy Christian Hummer executed another 29 point turn to get herself oriented properly once again. After fumbling with her SmartTrip card, she finally exited and let the rest of us do the same.
I am not sure there is a moral to the story, except perhaps that overweight happy Christian soccer moms with feathered hair who derive happiness FROM evangelical Christian conferences don”t appear to be very successful in deriving said happiness. Maybe, just maybe, the need to fix something a little deeper?