Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Holidays to WMATA

Source: "Red Line (Washington Metro)"
I've always been a great fan of public transit. I particularly enjoy DC's public buses, with their comfortable seats, great views of the city, and friendly passengers. One of my many long-range research projects has been to write a book about American bus culture called I Ride the Bus, to move beyond the usual focus on American car culture and show the interesting social life created among passengers, bus operators, bus depot employees, bus "foamites" (people who love buses so much that they are said to foam at the mouth), and so on. My appreciation of public transit led me to work for NYC Transit for nearly two years, which also exposed me to new aspects of the social worlds created on subways. We sociologists love it when such social worlds become visible, or, in the case below, audible to us.

A few weeks ago, I was on the Orange line and got a peek into WMATA's world of work. The train seemed to be having some door trouble. A man in WMATA gear pushed the call button to talk with train operator. Here was their conversation (I changed the numbers they used in the conversation):

  • This is the train operator. How may I help you?
  • This is 9XX. 
  • No, this is 9XY...Who is this?
  • This is 9XX. 
  • Is this Mr. Morales? ...You've been with me all this time? ...I'm so glad you're with me! You are one of the best!
  • There is no one leaning on the doors. There is a problem with the doors. 
  • Thank you! I have been having trouble with the doors 8, 10, 20, 24. We've been losing them across the city. I'm so glad you're with me. Thank you.

The operator's appreciation of a fellow worker and his specific skills was so spontaneous, revealing some of the joys of the collaborative work in places like WMATA. Organizations in general rely on the technical and social skills of their employees, including their abilities to work collaboratively, in order to function day-to-day and over many decades.

Happy Holidays to WMATA. Thanks for all the great work that you do.

Happy Holidays to all the residents of Ward 6 and of the entire District too!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Due to spammers, I am restricting comments.