Local Lore: The French fry incident

4 Jan

You'll never look at French fries the same again. © cyclonebill at Creative Commons

If you’ve taken the Metro with any sort of regularity, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that no one eats on the train. Besides the occasional commuter with coffee or a clueless tourist with a candy bar, no one eats on the Metro. How is that possible? How did the Metro system get so many people to cooperate? It’s simple: The French fry incident.

The year was 2000. The day was October 23. It started off as a typical afternoon for two 12-year-old girls as they entered the Tenleytown-AU Metro station. One of the girls, Ansche Hedgepeth, took a French fry out of a bag she was holding and ate it. Unfortunately for her, Metro was in the process of cracking down on illegally eating in the Metro system after rider complaints, and a plainclothes officer saw her. Hedgepeth was handcuffed, searched and taken away. Apparently, minors in DC charged with a crime have to be taken into custody. If she’d been an adult, Hedgepeth would have just received a fine.

The incident made the news and many people baulked at the extreme measures. But setting an example out of Ansche sure had the desired effect. It’s 11 years later and people still remember it. Now if they would only have a zero-tolerance rule for escalefters.

One Response to “Local Lore: The French fry incident”

  1. Meg January 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    Very interesting — I have always wondered how Metro managed to keep people from pulling out a McDonald’s bag on the train!

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