Eat french fries at the subway station, go to jail.
November 16, 2000 2:50 PM   Subscribe

Eat french fries at the subway station, go to jail. Martial Law will creep up on us like humid underwear, not like the sudden wedgie-style *BOOMPF* as previously believed.
posted by ethmar (23 comments total)
"Confidential" to "cCranium": I couldn't resist. :-)
posted by ethmar at 2:51 PM on November 16, 2000

"illegal eating"? Yikes.
posted by daveadams at 2:58 PM on November 16, 2000

"It is department policy to handcuff anyone who is arrested, no matter the age, he said"

scared skinny.

posted by rebeccablood at 3:03 PM on November 16, 2000

Every now and then, Click & Clack of Car Talk fame mention their producer's brush with this law. Master criminal Doug "The Subway Fugitive" Berman, once fled from a distracted D.C. transit officer who had stopped him with an illicit donut in hand. What's the statute of limitations, and does Doug need to stay in hiding?
posted by harmful at 3:05 PM on November 16, 2000

Uh oh... I can't even find a mention of "Freedom of Eating" in the Bill of Rights... Our Liberty is in danger!!! We need an "Eaters' Rights Amendment"!!! (E.R.A. - that acronym sounds familiar)
posted by BozLee at 3:09 PM on November 16, 2000

Fair enough! Eating on public transport and especially drinking soft drinks should be made punishable by 10 strokes of the ratan.
posted by lagado at 3:25 PM on November 16, 2000

wrong. sick and wrong. wrong and sick.
posted by Hackworth at 3:46 PM on November 16, 2000

"He said: 'Put down your fries. Put down your book bag,' " Ansche said. "They searched my book bag and searched me. They asked me if I have any drugs or alcohol."
You'd think a simple admonition to chew carefully before swallowing would have sufficed -- or, at most, a confiscation of the offending potatoes.
Obviously, possession of junk food has now joined various harder controlled substances as a precursor to criminal activity.
(Sidenote: Ansche Hedgepeth sounds like a name out of the Harry Potter books, no?)
posted by highindustrial at 3:52 PM on November 16, 2000

Serves the little scofflaw right. She was aware of the law. She broke the law. She was arrested. The courageous officers who participated in this undercover sting are to be commended. Their selflessness and bravery in apprehending the pre-teen in question should stand as an example to police officers nationwide, and will surely contribute to a city-wide decline in french fry related crime. Viva law and order.
posted by Optamystic at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2000

Zero tolerance is a code word for zero brains, and zero judgement.
posted by mikel at 4:43 PM on November 16, 2000

Do any of the people posting comments even live in D.C.? And, if so, do they use the Metro? I do. Every day. And I like that our subway is clean, comfortable and safe. And the reason is clean is because of the zero tolerance laws regarding food. The law is posted everywhere and says there is a zero tolerance.

The rules are broadcast periodically over the public address system "it is unlawful to eat, drink, smoke or play audio or visual devices—without the use of headphones—while within the Metro system..." I know it by heart. It is flashed on the information screens on the platforms and it is posted in every train carriage.

The article—at least the one I read in the Washington Post— says they the girl was asked if she knew it was against the law and she replied she did. If she had said she didn't know she would have been given only a warning despite the zero tolerance law, but she didn't. Why? because she knew it was against the rules, and she did it anyway. She claims she didn't say anything to the Metro police, but I find that hard to believe. Did she suddenly become mute? Did she suddenly think she was on NYPD Blue and should wait until her lawyer showed up? I have seen officers confront people regarding the eating rules. Sometimes they are tourists. They look embarrassed, apologize and the officer leaves. But usually it is students—and frequently in groups. And every time the officers are nice despite the attitude they frequently get from the students who treat them like rent-a-cops. I have never heard any officer ask anyone if they had alcohol or drugs in their bag.

Today while waiting for my train, I saw a woman reach into her bag pull out some food and proceed to eat. They she pulled out a coke and began to drink. I walked up to her and asked if she had seen the article in today's Post about the girl who was arrested for eating on the Metro. She said she hadn't. I asked her if she knew it was against the law to do so, and that there was a zero tolerance, and she replied that she did. And yet she continued to do so.

The Metro is the nicest subway system I have ever ridden, and since I have to ride it every day, I want it to stay that way.

The whole incident reminds me of something I read in April about Congressman Moran and an 8-year old who tried to steal the Congressman's car. A kid does something wrong and the parent's run to the papers claiming their child was the one wronged.

posted by terrapin at 8:27 PM on November 16, 2000

Hmm. Despite the rant, I still get a basic question of cleanliness vs. not-get-arrested-for-trivial-things. I understand Singapore is clean, yet the net of social control is far tighter to make it be so. I'm not ready to make that tradeoff yet.
posted by norm at 10:56 PM on November 16, 2000

I've commuted on both NYC and DC subways. The only trouble with allowing food and beverage on the trains is you run the risk of a sticky floor. So guess what you do? Wear shoes. I can't believe DC metro riders put up with being treated like children -- except, of course, when they break the rules.

The real story here is the pathology of a grown man who would handcuff a 12 year-old girl for eating.
posted by sudama at 11:22 PM on November 16, 2000

I don't mind if people drink water, but I can't stand it when people who drink anything else or eat food. You're in a confined space and accidents happen when you are in moving vehicles. What can't people simply wait until they get off the train.

Sudama: Imagine a scenario with someone who is drinking their hot coffee and reading a newspaper at the same time (while standing up). Train stops, coffee goes everywhere. Fortunately, I was standing behind him, the lady in front of him was not so lucky. It is not just sticky floors.

Although I agree with you about it being unnecessary for the cops to handcuff the girl, just take away the fries. The searching for drugs part sounds a bit extreme for me as well. Sounds it bit too Singaporish for my liking, I wonder when they will start fining people for not flushing toilets.

Having said that if I was 12, I would have liked the idea of getting handcuffed. It would have made for a good story at school.
posted by jay at 12:20 AM on November 17, 2000

People who eat chips, burgers and kebabs on the Tube are - undoubtedly - rank.
posted by Mocata at 6:57 AM on November 17, 2000


All these orphaned closing rant tags running around. What I want to know is why doesn't anyone ever open the rant tag?

As for the little girl, the officer should have used some discretion and told the girl she would have to leave the station or he would confiscate her fries. There's no need to arrest her.
posted by daveadams at 8:35 AM on November 17, 2000

I was not advocating arresting 12-year olds. I was supporting the rules that state eating and drinking within the system is not allowed. I agree that this young girl didn't need to be arrested or handcuffed. Perhaps in addition to having her fries taken from her she should have been given a warning that stated that if she is caught again she (or her parents) would have to pay a fine or spend time cleaning up within the Metro system.

It isn't just about sticky floors, especially since unlike NYC, DC's subway has carpeted floors. With food trash comes vermin. With vermin comes disease. It is about public safety, personal responsibility and respect for other people.
posted by terrapin at 10:20 AM on November 17, 2000

Carpeted floors -- wtf were they thinking?
posted by sudama at 10:35 AM on November 17, 2000


It seems, redundant on metafilter. Most posts seem to be rants by default. Mine tend to be grammarically challenged, but that's beside the point.

So at least everyone seems to think that arresting people with food is wrong. A ticket and confiscation maybe, but it seems to me that the DC metro needs garbages or something. I don't remember any problem with food on Chicago trains. Does DC have a large slob population?
posted by john at 10:36 AM on November 17, 2000

Here in Chicago, a couple of years ago, they announced beefed-up enforcement of prohibited activities like smoking, eating, and drinking. Then they announced a new revenue-enhancing plan to put Pepsi machines in all "L" stations.
posted by dhartung at 11:31 AM on November 17, 2000

Carpeted floors -- wtf were they thinking?

That public transportation doesn't have to be a drag. That more people may use public transportation—rather than clog the already crowded streets and pollute the air—if using public transportation was a pleasant experience.

That they have more class than NYC.

Does DC have a large slob population?

Nope. Just don't want our beautiful city to end up looking like LA, NYC and Chicago :)
posted by terrapin at 3:01 PM on November 17, 2000

Public transportation doesn't have to be bad? Feh. Wasted money on carpeted subways means money not spent on something worthwhile. It'll just become a magnet for dirt anyway, even more so than the existing floors.We do it just fine here in New York! Our subways are dirty and we're proud! Why? Because at least our cops don't arrest you for eating. Being Irish, I fully support an ammendment to the Constitution that garauntees freedom to all people of all walks of life to eat potatos WITHOUT FEAR OF PROSECUTION!Seriously. If I was that girl, I'd be pretty damn pissed off. I'd write letters to the precinct stating that no, I don't understand the necessity to enforce such a stupid law! From that day forward I would make it my cause and goal to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the occasional in between in the subway or as close to it as possible!Well alright, that wasn't really too serious after all.
posted by tomorama at 9:51 PM on November 17, 2000

Because at least our cops don't arrest you for eating.

Nope. They simply shoot people for being black.
posted by terrapin at 12:13 PM on November 29, 2000

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