Friday, June 10, 2005

What if Eliza Doolittle were black?

Perhaps the most amusing news story here in DC during my stay has been that of the inaudible Metro announcements. When I lived here, we were all used to the periodic announcements that sounded like the grown-ups on Peanuts cartoons: "Wah...wah...wah...Doors open on the left." Not a huge problem. You just kept track of where you were on the line and were careful to get off where you were supposed to. Well, now that the announcement could, in theory, say, "There's a terrorist on your train. Run for your lives," the authorities have determined it's important to be able to actually understand what the Metro workers are saying. The solution? Elocution classes. Thus riders will be told, according to Reuters, that they are approaching "Pent-a-gon" station, not "Pen-a-gon." (Happily, there is no "Libary of Congress" stop as that would present particular challenges methinks.)

Making the story even more laughable is the litany of woes confronting Metro:
The transit authority took a beating in a recent Washington Post series that detailed financial troubles, broken escalators, ground water leaking into train tunnels and other problems. Smith said the elocution classes were set up months ago and were not a response to the newspaper's series.
Good to know as I fail to understand how articulation will help the situation. Knowing there is "wa-ter" in the tunnel, not "war-ter" doesn't make it any drier, yes?

In other Metro news, trains now all sport signs urging riders to pay attention when a fellow passenger leaves a package. If the person will not take the package with him or her even when prompted, one should call the police they advise. The posters attempt to infuse the situation with levity through captions such as, "Don't forget your teeth" (really) with a picture of dentures. All of which pales in comparison to MARC's poster campaign. (Thanks to Chris for the link.)

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