I took the SEPTA train into Philadelphia this past Saturday, January 21, not to join the march, but to examine the train steps. The steps going up into the train are steep, and my wife was having trouble climbing them before her hip replacement. I wanted to examine them to see if she would be able to climb them now. (There are four shallow steps with a high 12-inch rise.) She would have no problem once in Philly because the platforms at those stations are level with the train aisle.
I was concerned the march-goers would crowd the train too much at the Marcus Hook station where I get on, but the weather after Saturday was expected to turn bad and that was the last day I could go. I got stung once by the huge crowds going to the annual Philly Flower Show.
I found the train was no more crowded than usual. There were a few families in my car heading to the march—husband, wife, and adolescent children—but still many empty seats.
I was pleased to see they all had handmade signs. It was a true grass-roots movement, but how did they know Saturday was the day, and where and when to meet? A round trip fare for a family is expensive, too expensive for a whim.
One woman, 50ish, thin, with obviously dyed jet-black hair, traveling with her husband, was wearing a black T-shirt with “Nasty Woman” spelled out in white. I did not know that meant something, and I told her she did not look nasty to me (actually, she did). She accepted the compliment, but looked uncomfortable. Her husband studied his fingernails.
I only got to talk with a spry, 70-something woman sitting in front of me, but she was obviously flaky, and I didn’t learn much from her. Even her fellow-marchers avoided her. Across the aisle was a normal looking family of four, but I didn’t get to talk with them. I wanted to ask the 10-year-old son the meaning of his sign that said “Science is real.” I could only guess it referred to denials of global warming.
More people in various groups carrying handmade signs got on at each stop, but the train never got crowded. They all got off at Suburban Station in a festive mood, not confrontational. They looked like friends and families entering Disneyland. (I continued on to Jefferson Station and Chinatown to pick up a few grocery items. No one was demonstrating there.)
Now that Biden has some time on his hands, I want to email him about improving SEPTA’s handicapped accessibility. I know SEPTA is not AMTRAK, but he may have some leverage and receptive to using it.