Now I won't begrudge someone who chews gum, although from the amount of gum around the stations and carpet of the train, I can understand why this would be banned (if it is). I don't care if you give your cranky toddler a few Cheerios from a Ziplock bag. I won't even bat an eye if you secretly pull out a bottle or water, take a sip, and put it back in your bag. That's not a problem with me.
But once in a while, I see some yuppie or federal worker with a steaming hot cup of coffee in the morning. Dude. Can it wait? No, apparently the "no eating and drinking" rules don't apply to you because you got to have that cup of jo NOW. Not before you got on the train, not after, but NOW. Because you're that busy and important.
Some bearded dude with a briefcase and a London Fog jacket came on today, sipping from his extra-tall-vente-mocha-frappi-houhou or whatever. Typical tall cup with plastic travel lid. He didn't talk to anyone or smile, just kept to himself, probably thinking about his Civil War Chess set or something while standing and holding onto the support bar with his elbow.
Then the train lurched suddenly. This is not an abnormal thing to happen, in fact, it happens several times each morning which is why I hold onto something if I am forced to stand up. But then I hear a "OW, GOD DAMMIT!" from a female voice, gasps of shock, and a half-sincere apology.
When I peeled my eyes away from the scenery out my window, I saw a circle of people spreading away from the Great Bearded Coffee Man. In his gloved hand were the crushed remains of what once was a cup containing some lovely tan-colored coffee-like drink. This drink must have erupted from the cup like a hot liquid bomb, snaked through the air, and then proceeded to coat the lady sitting down in front of him. A hint of steam came from her soiled jacket and knit bag, with a telltale drip pattern leading right back to the man who had launched it. People who had also been hit were wiping vanilla scented droplets off their coats, briefcases, and newspapers.
The woman was very angry, but still managed to keep her cool, and not leap from her seat and tear his eyes out; a response I might have considered acceptable in the heat of the moment. Most of the liquid had spilled on her jacket, so she was not completely burned, but some got on her hand, which she was squeezing underneath her armpit and gritting her teeth. The woman next to her had found napkins from... somewhere, and was dabbing what she could while the man stammered an apology that spoke less of sympathy than, "This wasn't supposed to happen! My coffee! She got my coffee!"
The train stopped at East Falls Church right after this scene unfolded, and when the doors opened, people spilled out to the platform to assess just how much got splashed onto them. A damp pool the shape of a large bologna steamed in the carpet. The man who used to posses the coffee, and now who only seemed to possess the crushed cup, also went outside, and threw away the cup in a trash can. But then he did the cowardly thing, and ambled in a meandering pattern until the doors closed, and THEN acted like, "Oh, well, I didn't mean to be left out here." He shrugged apologetically as the train passed by.
We all looked at him as the platform sped away. People offered many napkins and tissues to the woman, who assured us she wasn't really hurt, just startled and now rather upset at her sudden damp coating and stinging hand. A few people asked if she needed medical help, which she declined, and said, "I'd really rather not talk about this anymore."
She got off at Ballston, the next stop, probably because she wasn't the type to appreciate sympathetic attention.
But yeah... no food or drink. No exceptions.
Then, at the next stop, this guy came on with this flaming baked Alaska... [jk]