I opened my eyes, bleary as they were. The train had stopped. Across from me, past the double doors, a man wearing headphones observed me. I shifted my head to the right and squinted across the open tracks to the sign across the platform: Metro Center. Ah, my destination. The doors were already opened. I pulled myself to my feet and dashed across the train, the man in the headphones shooting me a half smile and saluting me with a nod of his head, and I hit the platform just in time to avoid being bowled back into the train by passengers running for the first car.
The man wearing headphones – I don’t know his name. But we both work in the same business park in northern Bethesda. We’re often on the same RideOn bus to Grosvenor in the afternoon, and most days, we’re on the same train. We both have a preference for the lead car of the DC-bound trains, because most people, for whatever reason, just sorta cluster around the escalators, resulting in packed rear cars and empty lead cars. I don’t know his name, but I’ve seen him close to five times a week for the last few years.
As I trudged up the out of service escalator – almost getting myself run down by a big guy in a business suit who apparently didn’t realize it was for two-way traffic — I wondered if Headphones Man would have woken me up if we’d passed Metro Center. I’m sure he knows my routine by now. I get on the Metro. I read for a stop or two. Then I put my head against the window and I nap.
Yes, I am a Metro napper.
I’ve become a more frequent Metro napper since starting at the Cinecave. When the previous day roused you out of bed at 6am, and didn’t get you back into it until midnight or later, you tend to spend the entire day thinking about how glorious your Metro nap will be.
And Metro naps – man, they’re glorious.
It only takes about twenty minutes for a train to get from Grosvenor to one of my two most frequent destinations – Woodley Park or Metro Center. And yet it feels like I’ve gotten an hour or two of sleep from the experience.
No, really: it’s bizarre to look at your watch as you board the train (usually about 3:17ish or so for me), and then again when you’re heading out of the station, and emerging onto Connecticut I’m often like, “How is it only 3:37? I feel like I just slept for two hours!”
This is how a nap goes: I sleep. Every station, or every other station, I wake up. Not a lot, just enough to rotate my head and look for a station sign. So for example, “Ehhrrrr … Van Ness. Cool, I can sleep more.” And then I wake up again after what’s probably been two minutes, but feels like half an hour, and I check the sign, and it says “Woodley Park” and I’m like, “Great! Two more stations to sleep through!”
And every now and then I wake up and the train went from being dead empty to being completely packed. And that sucks. But you know what, for all the Metro napping I’ve done?
I only missed my stop once. I was still at Borders. I woke up at Farragut North, but by the time I got to the door, they’d closed. Switched at Metro Center and got back.