Alert DC – No More, No Less

Metro - always a ray of sunshine for your commute

When the notification doesn’t affect me, I find the emails from Alert DC kind of amusing. They are so simple and direct, to the point where it may not actually be useful information. for instance. this morning I received the following email:

Police activity in the Pentagon Metro Station. The station is closed at this time.

In reacting to this information, I could come up with a few scenarios:

1 – terrorist activity. pentagon, police activity, doesn’t take much to put the two together. In which case, I am staying the hell away from the blue line and Pentagon station.

2 – drug/bomb sniffing dogs finding something. Considering the pentagon actually owns their own station (not WMATA), they can basically do whatever they want. Again, leading me to stay the hell away from the blue line.

3 – stand off. some kind of old-west standoff where the station has to be closed for safety reasons, to keep bystanders from getting injured. considering all the military personnel around, you’d have to be seriously crazy to be on the wrong team. again…. not going to pentagon.

A little later, I received the following email:

Update in reference to police activity in the Pentagon Metro Station; negative results and the station is open for service.

“negative results”, huh? sooooo…..

U st metro

1 – bomb threat averted? negative results for bomb residue/chemical residue/accelerant? this is probably the most likely considering the station is open for service and was resolved rather quickly.

2 – negative result (as in “a bad thing just happened”) was someone was hurt? if the email was sent a few hours later, I would actually consider this.

I think my big complaint (so many to choose from!) is that both messages do not give any information concerning the severity, consequences, or any related information about the alert. The initial email pretty much said “pentagon closed by police, you’re f-ed if you wanted to come through here or go to work today. I’m not even going to give you options about alternate transportation, how backed up the subway is, or how severe the problem is so you can better plan out your (what is now) shitty morning commute.” if you’re going to alert me about something, tell me what my options are. I was taught in school one very simple principle “don’t ask for information if you don’t know what you’re going to do with it”. the idea that you

now, I feel like I could adapt pretty well to any changes in my commute. I’ve had to walk from mcpherson square to foggy bottom and ultimately to rosslyn to pick up a train because of an incident at mcpherson (rider suicide). I’ve done the classic walking from dupont circle/farragut north to farragut west in order to avoid the metro center transfer (in case you’re wondering, yes, it does save time, all your DC city-dwellers should know this one already). with my smartphone, I would feel confident even adapting in cities I only knew a cursory knowledge of the public transportation system. but Alert DC doesn’t give riders of all levels of adaptation any options.

Alert DC is just that, an alert. don’t expect too much out of it, but it is nice to have an update on any potential incidences that could mess up my commute.

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