After returning to the station from Gainesville on Tuesday, I realized that I had to figure out which train to take home from downtown. After checking the schedule, I waited for the train, when suddenly it hit me.
I had always been told “Do not take the DART rail after dark.” Friends and family had never given any details or reason, other than that stern directive. Not a second later, I was swarmed by people asking for spare change. I felt as if I had a bulls eye painted on my back.
Wearing business attire and carrying a briefcase, I couldn’t have looked any more conspicuous. After boarding the train, I popped in my iPod earphones and hoped to escape the uneasy mood I had created for myself.
I’m generally not a paranoid person. I do however, think that there is nothing wrong with taking appropriate precautions for personal safety. I kept noticing this woman eyes darting between my briefcase and my eyes. Maybe it was just a coincidence. I could hear shouting coming from the rail car behind mine. It was difficult to discern if the commotion was an argument or just teenagers “carrying on.” Reading the newspaper helped to ease my nerves ever so slightly, until the train’s next stop.
A group of men boarded the train, looking very paranoid themselves. One of the three decided to sit right next to me. I couldn’t help but notice that the group kept looking around, as if looking to avoid someone. It very well could have been something as small as not purchasing a DART rail ticket and not wanting to be caught, but I wasn’t wanting to know any more details.
The next stop served as Act Two of this show. A guy dressed in black from head to toe, wearing a pair of “fairy wings” got on the train and proceeded down the aisle. Passengers at the front of the train began to mock him, which angered him, as indicated by his facial expressions. I began to lose the fear for my safety, when the concern for my sanity began to grow. One gentleman decided to showcase his interpretive dance skills by running up and down the aisle dancing like a ballerina. He then decided to serenade several passengers with some sort of chant that lasted for an eternity.
Finally the DART reached my stop, it couldn’t have been a more welcome sight. I literally ran to my car, locked the door, and headed home for a restful night’s sleep.
The next morning, still slightly wary of the idea of the DART rail, I decided to drive my car to work. Knowing that the only shenanigans I would be exposed to would be a radio show I listen to each day, driving was a welcome change. I filled up my tank, and headed to the freeway. Traffic moved much more quickly than I had expected. I was focused on how surprised I was that there was no traffic that morning, until everyone in the DFW Metroplex suddenly decided to take my same route.
As I later found, a stalled car had blocked traffic for 3 miles. My car moved what seemed like 30 feet in almost an hour. It took me twice as long to get to work that day and a quarter of a tank of gas. So between precious time, the cost of gas, and the 3 dollars I paid to park, riding the DART (during the day) is a better deal. A day pass for unlimited use of the rail is $2.50. I use a month pass which costs $40.
While I don’t plan to ride the DART after dark again, I primarily use the rail during the day, which is very safe and clean. The cost of traveling anywhere in Dallas by car is far greater than using the rail. At least when I ride DART, I don’t have to deal with traffic and arrive at the same time each day.