Thursday, December 9, 2010

Coffee cops

As the weather has gotten colder, it's harder to get motivated away from the coziness of my bed in the morning, I generally crave the warmth and comfort of my daily cup of coffee even more than usual, and it has become harder and harder to resist Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority's prohibition on food/drink.
So, I get it. Using your commute to eat breakfast is not appealing to your fellow riders, and we have no desire to watch you leave a trail of crumbs behind you. Fortunately, this isn't the part I have a problem with.

I just want my caffeine! Back in Little Rock -- my source of all recent comparison -- I lounged around in the morning, drank a cup at home, brought my trusty Democrat-Gazette travel mug from my intern days in the car with me, and strolled in to the Capitol, coffee still warm in hand after my short drive, to rouse me, slowly, but surely, to a functioning intellectual level appropriate for the working world.

But here, it's a whole different story. With a half-hour commute (a quarter-mile walk on either side and the Metro ride), it's the opportune time to sip my coffee. Instead, I'm rushed to gulp it down at home before even leaving the house, all to spend the next half hour thinking about the delicious hot coffee I could be drinking, if only things were different. When I depart the metro, it requires significant willpower to avoid walking into one of my several coffee shops I pass on my way to work. But on principal's sake, I just can't purchase coffee on a daily basis.

But here's the thing. I face a constant internal battle about this. As I've said in a previous post, I don't want rats on my metro tracks like in New York. And I don't want to have to worry that the seats or carpet where I sometimes put down my bag are sticky with the residue of who knows what. I like our clean Metro and Metro platforms. Sometimes it seems like a small sacrifice to pay, and sometimes I'm wishing so much for my coffee that I just really don't care.

And what about that militia of de facto coffee cops? Do these people ride the trains all day long seeking out people like me who feel like breaking the rules once in a while? One day, this woman walked across the car to me to inquire as to whether or not I knew about the rule. She pointed to a sign on the wall stating it pretty clearly. Of course I knew the rule, I told her, but I'm really careful. She didn't buy it. She gave me a nasty look and then proceeded to stand guard, staring at me so I wouldn't dare take another sip. I bet she and her cohorts operate a list serve where they create a schedule of who's going to police which lines which days.


  1. Don't you have a thermos or something that you could hide in your purse?

  2. Oh trust me, I've tried that. It's a tricky thing to do, and I'd almost rather risk getting "cited" by WMATA police than try to balance my purse just so that the thing won't spill...

  3. I'm still searching out folks who will get behind me on the whole "Starbucks stand in the Capitol" idea. With our new "friends" about to inundate the cap, I don't see that happening any time soon.

  4. You never know. Maybe if Starbucks promises to keep the cups red all year long.

  5. This would make me insane. And I agree with you about not buying coffee. So I'm trying to be solution-oriented. Is your travel mug rock solid? i.e. if you put it in your bag, will it spill while you walk? Because then at least you could have it in hand as you walk from the train to your office. I know, just an incremental improvement, but it could help!

  6. I love this for a couple of reasons...

    1. I completely understand and would HATE not being able to drink coffee on the way to work.
    2. I can't imagine staring someone down because they had a cup of coffee in their hand.
    3. As a fellow rule-follower, it cracks me up that you are bypassing the rules all in the name of a cup of coffee. Some things are just worth it...