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If a passenger on Metro wasn't moving, would you try to wake them?

Every day, there are a host of people who, for a variety of reasons, fall asleep on the train. Some are coming off a long shift, some are drunk, some are just worn out. Then, exactly a week ago, a man who seemed to be one of these railway nappers wasn't snoozing. He was dead. And for five hours, Rickey Jay Van Houter's corpse rode the Red Line loop unnoticed.

It got Petula Dvorak thinking: Have you ever woken up a fellow Metro rider? Would you?

Let us know below.

By Cameron Smith  |  May 24, 2010; 3:22 PM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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At the end of the line? Oh yeah, I've woken many Metro riders who are still asleep at the last station. Never had a problem with it. Most people are generally happy that somebody woke them up.

But in the middle of the line, probably not. Many people snooze on the train, and I bet very, very few of them are actually dead.

Posted by: redgrifn | May 24, 2010 3:50 PM

what redgrifn said.

Posted by: pprettyman | May 24, 2010 3:59 PM

If I have been on the train with someone I see often and know their pattern, I have waken them to get off at their stop. And at the end of the line, I always wake people up. So this to me is a no-brainer. Just ask them if they've passed their stop. If not, they usually go back to sleep or thank you for checking on them.

Posted by: cbmuzik | May 24, 2010 4:03 PM

If I am getting off at the end of line, I would definitely wake the person up.

Posted by: HotChocolate | May 24, 2010 4:15 PM

At the end of the line I would...if he didn't respond then I would tell the train;s driver...

Like the previous far as I am concerned at the end of the line it is metro's responsibility to check the train not only for people but property left there...common sense....They know they are supposed to do this but many times don't...

Sad considering the salary they make

Posted by: pentagon40 | May 24, 2010 4:26 PM

I ride the blue and orange lines everyday, usually around the same time each morning. I recognize faces and sometimes the stop they get off on. Whether riding to the end of the line or to a certain stop, I have tapped a sleeping shoulder or two and asked if they were ok. So far no one's gotten mad for it. They usually say thank you. They either get off or go back to sleep. No harm done.

Posted by: snoopy3d | May 24, 2010 4:29 PM

There was some uncaring deadbeat lying on his back taking up an entire seat with his feet sticking out into the aisle this morning on the red line. Would anyone touch him? Hell no. I expect most people were thinking somthing similar to the "uncaring deadbeat" line.

Posted by: solong_430 | May 24, 2010 4:44 PM


But I will kick the homeless person sleeping in an entire seat during rush hour.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | May 24, 2010 4:46 PM

This poll needs more varibles. This is not a yes or no situation. If the person appeared to be in a state of something other than sleeping, I would inquire, but if they are sitting in a position giving the appearance of sleeping I would not try to wake them up unless it's at the end of the line. Now we must also assume that there were people who rode the train all the way to the end of the line in both directions in the same car with the person. If the person appeared to be sick I would help them, if the person was laying in an unusual position I would help, but if they just appeared to be sleeping, I don't think I would disturb them.

Posted by: Beingsensible | May 24, 2010 5:27 PM

I returned to work after surgery earlier than my doctor recommended...on the way home the first day I fell asleep and missed my stop. I am grateful to the person who woke me up at the end of the line. I would do the same at the end of the line.

Posted by: wend08 | May 24, 2010 7:55 PM

When I am on the bus or train and I sit next to someone I assume is sleep, I ask if they missed their stop, if they wake up then they are fine,if they do not,then their would be a problem.

Posted by: onesugar | May 25, 2010 3:03 AM

I think most of the people who answered the poll aren't reading it fully - the question asks what you would do if a person wasn't moving, not what you would do if someone was sleeping. There's a huge difference between the two. If someone is sleeping, I'm not going to bother them unless it's at the end of the line. If someone's not moving (not breathing, eye not opening at a stop to see where we are, belongings falling down) then I would see if the person's ok.

Posted by: DreA3 | May 25, 2010 9:13 AM

This whole thing is so weird to me. I've never hesitated to wake someone up if they've been asleep for several (like, more than five) stops. I've fallen asleep on the Metro, and it sucks. I wish someone had woken me up.

I don't wake up homeless people, though. Some of them get on the train and ride it all day. It's air conditioned or heated, and God knows where they slept the night before. They can't have gotten on the train without paying for it, so what makes them less entitled to ride Metro than I am?

As for those of you who are griping about them taking a whole seat, are you really going to grudge them that? It's annoying, and I might literally want the place they're occupying at the moment, but I wouldn't want to be in their place figuratively. I'm on my way to my home. They're on their way to nothing - just a continuous loop.

Posted by: allison_g | May 25, 2010 10:04 AM

I made a comment on the article, but it got deleted and I don't know why (there was no cursing or lewd language, nothing more than a little sarcasm directed towards the author of the piece). Anyway, the Kitty Genovese Effect that she cites is a myth. It was thoroughly debunked years ago, nobody saw her murder, nobody saw or heard more than snippets of the incident leading up to her murder. And the bystander effect refers not to people not caring in large groups, but to individuals in large groups thinking, "I see something out of the ordinary, but there are so many people here that probably also saw it, someone else has likely called the authorities or otherwise taken care of it." She seems to use a less nuanced definition of it. Not only that, but who's to say anyone could even see him where he was sitting at the end of the line? Weak article, sorry.

Anyway, I wouldn't wake someone up unless it was the end of the line. I'll chat with people who are awake AND willing to chat, but I'm not going to stop someone who's just trying to take a nap.

Posted by: dkp01 | May 25, 2010 11:02 AM

If I noticed someone sleeping at the end of the line I would wake them up. I've fell asleep once on the Boston green line and ended up in the yard at the end of the line. It was no problem for me to manually open the doors at let myself out (you can easily walk across the tracks to the station). The driver screwed up and should have woken me up before parking the train and leaving.

Posted by: VinceDC | May 25, 2010 11:09 AM

Sure - I've woken lots of people at the end of the line. I'm surprised that only 27% of the respondents said they would waken snoozing passengers.

Posted by: kirtu | May 25, 2010 11:37 AM

I live in NY and if you wake someone up before the end of the line you might be the one sleeping.....permanently.

Posted by: PennyWisetheClown | May 25, 2010 1:27 PM

My mother told me of one of her co-workers who fell asleep on the train. This was a while ago, back in the 80's. At the end of the line, no one woke him. The train pulled out and went to the dockyard. He was awakened by a Metro employee going through picking up trash. He had to walk back from the dockyard via the employee exit. They didn't make him swipe out, though.

Posted by: philmphile | May 25, 2010 1:28 PM

are you kidding? in today's world, anyone could be packing heat.

if they were showing signs of obvious distress and then collapsed, that's another story.

but that's not the question you asked.

Posted by: potomacfever00 | May 25, 2010 1:43 PM

At the end of the line...sure! I've awakened many a sleeping passenger. I'm surprised so few of us would wake folks up though. It's a sad reflection of the times we live in where we're no longer our brother's keeper.

Posted by: sshabazz1 | May 25, 2010 1:52 PM

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