Dear PoPville – My Painful Experience on Metro

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoPville,

I was riding the metro on my way to get my kid from school. After a long day of work I was tired and kind of falling asleep when the train arrived to a station and I heard someone banging on the window near where I was sitting. A group of loud teenagers got on the metro playing and cursing really bad. Oh well. One of them sat next to me, I was trying to not pay attention to what they were doing or saying, but then I started to realize that they were talking about me, “…because if you…(I didn’t understand what he was saying), I’m going to whoop your ass!” They repeated this several times.

I decided to not confront them, but at the same time I decided to not go away. I was the grown up there, and I was not going to be bullied in that way, and apparently they didn’t like it. At some point two of them stood up and pretend to be fighting in front of me. I knew what was coming, so I got prepared. One of them started pushing the other one to make him fall on top of me; all I did was to wait for him with my elbow out (I’m thin man so my elbow is kind of sharp), so every time the other one pushed him, he found my elbow in his back, it happened 4 or 5 times. The one that was pushing the other then had the audacity to ask if he could use my phone. I said “sure!” in a very sarcastic way. “I’ll let you dial the number” he said, and I replied “yeah, right”. After that, the same two started fighting until one of them got the cell phone of the other one. They kept being loud, and they finally got off the train at the U Street Station.

I feel sad for them, and hope someday they realize how wrong it is what they are doing. I had no time to file a report since my kid was waiting for me, and honestly, they are teens so nothing was really going to happen to them. I think I did the best I could given the circumstances, and just wanted to share this experience with fellow PoPville folks.”

70 Comment

  • This is a joke right? Teenagers making fun of adults in public, what a concept! You have three legit options in this situation: 1) Move! 2) Move, but make a joke as you walk past them, acknowledging that you think they are being dinks but you are being cool about it 3) Tell them to shut the f*%# up!

    Feel sad for them? Interesting.

    • PDleftMtP

      The whole anonymous internet tough guy routine – “Well, *I* wouldn’t be intimidated by these kids threatening to kick my ass and pushing me around – I’d just give them what for!” is played out and a little pathetic.

    • I get what you’re doing there- you’re trying to minimize this to just kids being kids. By not coming down on this behavior strongly and demanding higher expecations (as we would of suburban kids), you’re basically ok with the status quo. What they were doing is bordering on assault. You could seriously hurt someone by purposely throwing who knows how big of a kid/teen into another person. This kind of anti-social behavior is one of the primary reasons I avoid Metro like the plague. Say what you will, but I like maintaining my bubble as much as possible- and I say that in all seriousness and with not an ounce of guilt.

      • I actually prefer anti-social behavior on the Metro. Everybody sit down and shut-up.
        It is kids being kids. The only thing that is minimal is the balls on people who can’t do anything about it- because they are scared. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I was intimidated by a group of teens late one night (not on metro), and while I chose to not let it escalate, the painful part was how lady-like I felt afterward. I’m a tough guy, too. I can swing with the best of them- but since I have something to lose, it didn’t warrant me taking any bruises that night. Except for my ego- which is the painful experience here.
        As far as “coming down on this behavior strongly”, the only way to accomplish that is with an ass-whupping. If you think your finger-wagging and time-outs are gonna accomplish something… I mean what are you gonna do, lock them up for rough-housing?

        • #realtalk
          Kids are going to be kids. If a cop was on the train, they’d probably settle down. But we all know that’s not possible for every train car. Best bet is to get up and move seats/cars.
          Yeah, they might holler at you, but who cares? Teenage kids of every socioeconomic class and ethnicity are unmitigated assholes. Kids in the ‘burbs hang out their car windows hollering lewd words or throwing things at pedestrians (has happened to me many times). Kids are dicks.

          • Speaking of…question I’ve had for a while. I’ve lived in many large cities in the US, including Chicago and New York, both of which have uniformed police riding the trains at times. I’ve never once seen a uniformed officer riding the Metro. Anyone know why? I mean…I get the undercover stuff, but isn’t a uniformed officer a big deterrent?

          • Emmaleigh504

            I see cops all the time on the nice, safe yellow line. They hang out in the first car of the train.

          • I frequently see cops on the red line. I hadn’t thought about it until I read the previous post, but they’re often in the first car, although I’ve seen them in other cars as well.

          • Anon 2:41, Metro is policed by Metro police rather than MPD, so it’s very very rare that you’ll see a uniformed MPD officer riding. I do see uniformed Metro police occasionally (in fact I saw 4 yesterday or the day before.) I wouldn’t say I see them all over the place, but I would say it’s just chance (or maybe your riding pattern) if you haven’t seen one.

          • I disagree. I don’t know anyone in my mid-upper SES who clashed with police or assaulted adults as a teen. Stop making excuses.

          • I guarantee you kids from the VA and MD suburbs have caused way more injuries and death via drunk driving than urban kids harassing individuals on the Metro or in the streets of DC. I’m not excusing these kids, because this crap is super annoying. But my point is that kids of all stripes are selfish assholes regardless of SES. Don’t fool yourself.
            Hell, look at that high SES “affluenza” asswipe from Texas. How many lives did he destroy? Way more than the urban youth roughhousing on the DC Metro in any given week. So stop pretending that high SES kids are any better than the poor kids in DC.

          • So very true!

        • Unfortunately, I think the most an ass-whupping would accomplish in this type of situation is a potential assault charge for the ass-whupper. Not trying to be snarky, as I empathize with the OP–those kinds of encounters are uncomfortable and unpleasant, and it stinks that the onus is on the quiet person who’s minding their own business to extricate themselves from the situation. But at the end of the day, it’s not a crime to ask someone (even if it’s in a smart-ass, taunting way) to use their phone, and a self-defense argument would be kind of weak if the kids could claim that all they were doing was rough-housing with each other and “accidentally” bumped a fellow passenger. (Yes, maybe it worked for George Zimmerman and Bernie Goetz, but even if you’re acquitted in the end, you risk spending a boatload on legal fees and attracting notoriety that most people don’t want.)

        • Trust me, no way anybody except a defensive tackle for the Redskins is going to come out on top of a 5-on-1 fight with rowdy teens. A friend of mine was randomly assaulted by a group of teens in Metro Center and left with a broken jaw and two black eyes. All on a crowded platform and nobody stepped in to help or control the thugs. The guy is not small and he’s not a cowardly pantywaist. When the numbers are against you, it’s best to move along.

  • I’m not sure “painful” is really the right word to describe this encounter. This happens all the time.

  • Worst Penthouse Forum post EVER.

  • Did no one else call on the emergency box or anything?

  • That was anticlimactic.

  • Gee whiz, thanks for sharing your experience. Maybe you can pitch this incredible tale to the Onion:

    Local Man Bravely Stands Up to Irritating Teenagers
    Mr. T had always considered his bony elbows something of an embarrassment. Little did he realize they would prove to be his greatest asset in the fight against rowdy urban youth…

  • Glad to see our country’s youth still on the fast track to Nothingville. Pity we systematically destroyed inner city families with super-racist law enforcement policies otherwise these kids would have good role models. Still, the onus is on each individual to make something of themself regardless of homelife.

  • So much the snark today. Sheesh.

    Anyway, yeah, I wish this was something that could be considered unusual. In my friend’s case, they got off the train with him, followed him up the stairs to the bike share taunting him and threw balls of paper at him the entire way. Probably their homework. Savages! No one helped, obviously.

    • Agreed, seems like the reasonable Popville contingent must have left for the holidays.

      This is not “kids being kids”. I never acted like that, my friends never acted like that, and in most places in this country where parents teach basic manners, kids don’t act like this. And it is sad, and enraging, that there are so many pathetic, going-nowhere, feral kids in this city that get their jollies attempting to ridicule, and often worse.

      The OP has my sympathy.

      • houseintherear

        “Feral” is a word you should be careful using. It’s extremely offensive.


        I acted exactly like this. Grew up white and fairly wealthy in a DC suburb. It’s a teenager thing.

        • Scrillin

          No, it’s a dickhead thing. Your parents taught you to be feral, and it transcends class and race lines. I say this as a kid who was NOT well-behaved himself, but who never did this dumb type of shit in public.

        • I went to a public school in a solidly middle/upper-middle class white area. Tons of kids acted like this around teachers or parents. They’d get rowdy at football games in the bleachers, harassed people from their cars (aggressively revving engines, threw full cups of soda at cyclists, would honk horns at old ladies, etc), would steal cell phones from younger/smaller kids, randomly get in fights, and all manner of asshole behavior.
          When I read about these complaints that people have about the urban teens of DC, I can usually draw a parallel to my predominantly white public high school experience. This is the shit most people deal with outside of rich neighborhoods.
          I think the issue in DC is that you have high SES elite professionals who come from money/the upper class running into this behavior. They were never exposed to this and really don’t know how to handle themselves or extricate themselves from the situation.

        • Yeah, I tend to think there are always the few bad apples everywhere. I grew up in a middle to upper-middle class, predominantly white area, and most of the teens I knew and encountered were fine (aside from the more innocuous teen silliness and angst), but there was the small contingent of nastier, more intimidating teens. In my experience, they tended to be the handful of self-styled superstar jocks who thought they were God’s gift to their sport and the school (and were revered accordingly, which didn’t help matters). I think their behavior was also less apparent to some, because–again, only in my observation, I’m not generalizing to all teens and all communities–they tended not to harrass their “own” kind (ie, fellow preppy white men) as much. It was more stuff like: making lewd comments to women, harrassing guys they thought looked gay, getting up in the faces of people who looked “foreign” (ie, taunting a Middle Eastern-looking guy by calling him “Mohammed” or “Saddam Hussein”–this was back in the pre-Osama days–or talking in a fake, shrill “Arab” accent) and so on.

      • I think it is politically correct to say, “Oh, these are just kids being kids, and all kids are like this.” Um, actually no, they’re not. That characterization is disingenous, and the speaker (oftentimes a privileged person who never grew up around crap like this) knows what they are saying is patently false. Holding DC kids to a lower standard with that ridiculous statement may be fine for you, but I find it reprehensible and a sign of excuse-making that does nothing but hinder a real conversation on improving things. I’ve grown up all around the country and been with many kinds of “kids,” and that behavior is not “kids being kids.” It is a culture out of control.

        • Thank you, L, for making my point. I swear I hadn’t read your post when I was writing my own- haha! Bingo!

        • Agree. I grew up in small town Illinois and we would have never dreamed of acting like this. Going out with a bunch of your buddies and hassling adults just didn’t happen.
          That being said, I live in Bloomingdale and walk past teenagers every day and haven’t had a single problem in 5 years, so it’s not all kids in DC (or they just don’t hassle me, but are thugs too).

        • “It is a culture out of control.”
          Yeah seriously, when are these white kids in the suburbs going to stop drunk driving or texting and driving, killing and injuring innocent people and destroying families? Someone needs to get this culture of selfishness under control!
          [/bottomline – all teenagers suck]

        • The point is kids do stupid/dangerous/ insulting/silly/ show-offy things. Of course it’s not acceptable. Nobody is excusing their behavior. The question is, what are YOU gonna do about it.
          When I was a teen, we drove around egging things. We also drove around with water balloons and water guns and “surprised” people. It took some guy who followed us and scared US to stop. The point I was making is that your holding to higher standards doesn’t work if all you do is think it in your head. My friends and I pretty successful, and weren’t f-ups in school. Upper middle class, if that matters in your equation.

          • Anon. Thanks for your comment. I don’t have a solution for what I myself could do (other than avoiding the problem the OP got himself into by refusing to move). I’m a smaller woman, so I’m not going to do anything with a bunch of teens. But more to the point, this is a bigger problem that requires more than an immediate response. I tend to be a cynic when it comes to the value of neighborhood tutoring programs, etc… I think the answer is complex and lies with the community from where it comes (in this case, inner city DC). It has to do with making families whole again, encouraging intellectual curiosity, perhaps bringing back the discipline and accountability of religious faith and practice for those who have drifted away from their church, etc… It has to do with city, state, and federal policy. The roughhousing or assault on the metro is really part of a much bigger problem, and I couldn’t begin to scratch the surface of the solution(s) on this blog.

          • There is no solving this, Anonymous. That’s the whole point some of us are trying to make. You can’t stop dumb adolescents from doing stupid things – whether in the city or a rich suburb. Mix in the issues from poverty, ethnicity, and broken homes and it’s even more intractable here.
            Really, the only thing you can do is try to avoid getting into these situations. For a lot of people, they’ve solved this by moving to the suburbs and driving into work each day. Other folks ride their bikes. For those who get on the Metro, it means being vigilantly aware of your surroundings, moving cars and sitting near the conductor or a cop, if necessary.
            The kvetching and hand wringing on PoP’ville about this stuff is like a broken record.

      • Reasonable PoPers are now only concerned with re-sale value of their houses. The fringe PoPers still engaged the “bike” discussions. Snark is left for us public transportation, unmarried renters! The purveyors of sin and denizen’s of hell!

      • i’d rather be called feral, that have kids treat me the way they treated OP.
        one offense is far greater than another.

  • I basically don’t sit on Metro anymore, so I can move on short notice if I need to. If I see what looks like trouble boarding, I’m off and jump to another car. So count me among the annoying people who crowd around the doors.

  • brookland_rez

    Rowdy urban teenagers. Did the OP just move to DC or something?

  • Funny how the NONs pretend to be so brave and bold…

    Make up a fake name for goodness sake.

  • No, I believe they are all from the mainland.

  • As a petite woman, I have to admit that encounters like this (and they *do* happen often) are frustrating, and I’m glad that someone else is talking about it.

    Snark all you want, but why shouldn’t we all be able to ride the metro without being hassled?

    • No one said we shouldn’t, but the reality is we can’t. The question is do we have to get all bent out of shape every time we hear about it. I’d love it if I never have to encounter obnoxious people but that’s not going to happen in a town like this.

  • dear popville: i experienced youths on the metro.

    what is so painful or sad about this? newsflash, young people have a lot of energy and can get obnoxious in public sometimes. yes it’s annoying and rude. move to another car.

  • This is not “kids being kids”. Kids being kids is joking, talking and carrying on within themselves. Anyone who is dismissing this behavior as “kids being kids” is giving them free reign to harass others, that’s ridiculous. That attitude is why they grow up thinking its okay to steal and harass others to get what they want. They’re not entitled to the seat any more than the OP is. The teens need to learn to respect other people and the this attitude of “oh they’re just kids” is only going to cement the fact that they believe they can do whatever they want and not only can they, they’re entitled to.

    • I’ll let you take a crack to the skull for the sake of proving a point and “teaching them a lesson.”
      I’ll gladly keep my wits about me and find another seat. Ain’t no one got time to deal with an emergency room.

  • It’s a combination of teens being teens with an added racial and socioeconomic dimension. I doubt they would have done this had the OP not been white and wealthy-ish. But (relatively) rich white newcomers and longtime black residents live in separate universes in DC, so it’s easy to dehumanize the other side.

    • good assumptions. but plenty of nonwhite folk get harassed by teens too.

      • Going with the assumption that the teens were black, trust me, they do hassle non-whites, including other blacks–all the time. Bad children don’t reserve their foolishness just for new, “wealthy-ish” whites.
        And statistically, there is more intraracial crime, etc.

    • why do you assume the OP is white and the teenagers are black? all he says is “teenagers”.

    • “But (relatively) rich white newcomers and longtime black residents live in separate universes in DC, so it’s easy to dehumanize the other side.”
      Very, very true. Good point.

  • “Kids being kids” is an excuse for kids doing this to their peers, or just being obnoxious – not for harassing other people.

  • Hi all, yes I could have moved and I didn’t stay to prove how “tough” I am but to show them (without creating a bigger conflict) that their behavior not necesarily achieve what they want. I’ve been living in DC for more than 10 years, I’ve seen loud teenagers on the metro many times, but this was different. Maybe I was wrong in what I did, but just wanted to share my experience anyway. Thanks for your comments and wish everybody a great weekend!

    • thank you for sharing your experience. not all of us reading are knocking you!

      • I’m not knocking you OP. I’m knocking the fools on this blog with their holier than thou attitudes. But one thing I will knock you for – you don’t have to feel sorry for anyone. That ish is patronizing. Keep that elbow sharp and keep it moving.

  • All of you are happy to judge this situation (one way or another), but the fact is that teenagers being obnoxious (which is obviously part of life) can either be threatening or not, depending on the context. And the problem is that you don’t always know which situation you’re in until things have escalated too far. I myself have been bothered by teens throwing food at me on the Metro/in stations on two occasions in the past few months. In the first case, I was soaked with a soft drink and was about to tell the little bastards to **** off when another victim of the shenanigan beat me to the punch. The guys threatened to SHOOT HER. Now, I have no idea if they were able or willing to follow through on this threat. But lord knows there are plenty of illegal guns floating around in D.C., and the second time something like that happened, I chose to just roll my eyes and move on with my life. But feeling like it’s not even safe to confront people who are being assholes is NOT part of normal teenage behavior and is NOT ok. You have no idea in this case whether these were skinny little punks or 200lb muscular kids. In the latter case, an “ass-whooping” could very well land you in the ER.

  • Just future scumbags. This is what our welfare system promotes. Congrats libtards.

  • You know its funny, I was just up in queens, NYC with a group of friends all from DC. We get out the subway walk up the steps in a really ruff area. Homeless peopleand crackheads running around. We all look at each other and all at the same time say “still safer then DC” lol and all start laughing. Yea that’s our gut response.

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