[Still cleaning out the link backlog for…oh…another week or so].
To celebrate my birthday last month, some woman decided to pull this stunt on the Metro:
A 51-year-old Mclean woman was “involuntarily committed” after she allegedly made a bomb threat aboard a Red Line train Monday morning, panicking fellow riders and causing train delays, according to officials.
The bomb scare took place at 7:45 a.m. when an eight-car train bound for Twinbrook was leaving the station, according to Metro Transit Deputy Police Chief Ron Pavlik.
The woman, whose name was being withheld, dropped to her knees and said, “You killed my family. Now I’m going to kill you all,” Pavlik said
This, of course, caused a panic. Over nothing, really. The women was mentally ill and taken to some facility. But that didn’t stop the Washington Post from finding some juicy post-panic quotes:
Kathy Josephson, who was waiting for a bus at Rockville Station, said she would like to see more police and security in the transit system.
“Every time you go on Metro you’re taking a chance when you ride with your safety and security,” she said. Josephson said she hoped the woman would be charged with making a threat so it would deter others.
“You don’t play around and make threats like that,” she said. “It makes me nervous. They’re playing with my life and they should be in jail. There’s too many people doing crazy stuff.”
I’m not sure how many people had that reaction to a crazy person on the Metro, but I can’t imagine that’s what too many people actually thought. I think that’s what people who were being interviewed by the Washington Post in the aftermath of this incident believed they were supposed to think and say. “There’s too many people doing [whatever happens to be the subject of the article” is about the most generic post-event newspaper quote there is.
And “Every time you go on Metro you’re taking a chance when you ride with your safety and security” is true, but only because there’s a good chance some 13-year-old is going to punch you in the face and take your iPod, not because of some ranting and raving mentally ill woman. If anybody actually believed that they were “taking a chance” every time they rode the Metro, nobody would ride the Metro. Or any form of public transit. At least not as an everyday commuter. This is one of those times when what people say is both extremely predictable and extremely divorced from reality. When you ask somebody in the aftermath of one of these events whether or not they’re scared, of course he will say yes. But looking at the crowds of people taking the subway or buses to work in the morning provides a better measure of how scared people actually are.
So long as the bad guys don’t choose any of the other 85 stations, we’re good.
But the part that really made me crack up was the “I would like to see more police and security in the transit system” line. Ms. Josephson is evidently not familiar with the Laws of Metro Cops: Law #1: Each additional police officer added to a Metro station will increase the circumference of the circle of police officers laughing and cracking jokes with each other by 5.14 feet.* Law #2: Each additional police officer added to a Metro station will increase the chance of the nearest handicapped man or pregnant woman getting the crap beat out of him/her as the cops scream “stop resisting!” by 6%.
Suspected terrorist on a…terrorist scooter.
The suggestion that adding “police and security in the transit system” will have even the slightest effect on the chances of an actual terrorist attack is really quite absurd. And evident if you think about it for more than a couple seconds. Deep down, we all know this. But we’re afraid to say it.
So when you wonder why elderly cancer patients have to remove their underwear before they get on a plane, this is part of the reason why. Because every time some yahoo does something that harms exactly nobody (either because they’re crazy or thwarted by vigilant bystanders), people scream about how scared they are (when they’re not) and how much they want to be protected (when they can’t be). And journalists and politicians respond to that sentiment. Because apparently these are the roles we’re supposed to play when these things happen.
*[This is absolutely true and evident to anybody who regularly rides the Metro. I’ve had several opportunities to get a personal picture of this over the past few weeks, but I’m not terribly interested in getting my face beaten in by said circle of cops. So google will have to do].