Spring is here, and the tourists have returned home to roost. I'm pretty confident I have talked about this every year, but it's a big change in tone on the Metro. We have tourists year round, but spring brings a dramatic increase in volume, as well as a certain change in their makeup. They never carry anything, except maybe a tour guide they keep checking, a bag with some newly purchased souvenirs, or a Metro map. They're never dressed for the weather; the standard uniform is a t-shirt and shorts. And no matter how hard they try, they don't fit in with the flow of mass transit. They're always turning the wrong way, double-checking where they are midstream, and generally gumming up our efficiently flowing patterns.
By contrast, the vast majority of my fellow Metro riders are commuters. Most carry backpacks; it's a nomadic lifestyle, and you never know when you'll need headache medicine, or something to read when the train is stuck, or what have you. We're professionals, so we know which train car is the most efficient for us to get in on, so when we leave we're next to the escalators. And yes, even which door opens and closes. And no matter what else, we're dressed for the weather, coats, umbrellas, or otherwise.
There is a third class, actually: travelers. They're not regular Metro commuters, but they're locals, so they know what they're doing, and how to use the system. They don't stand on the wrong side of the escalator. They stick out because they're never dressed quite right (say, semi-formal wear) or they're carrying something odd (a guitar case, or a stack of seemingly-empty egg cartons.)
(More boring details: the Metro station "closest" to my work is Foggy Bottom, so every morning the Metro is thick with nurses in their hospital scrubs.) (Also, this morning there was a college chick wearing a KISS shirt, and all I could think was, I am pretty sure you've never even heard the band before.)
And all this reminds me, I need to plan a trip to the zoo soonly.