MR. ROB SACHS
And now, a story about a secret, movable happy hour. It’s our weekly transportation segment ''From A to B." Here at ''Metro Connection,'' we've been hearing rumors that one of the local commuters train, the MARC in Maryland, turns into a rolling beer garden on Friday afternoons, minus, of course, the lederhosen.
MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Okay, that's not quite what we heard. That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but here's the story. One of our co-workers, who shall remain nameless, told us that MARC commuters have started a Friday happy hour in one of the train cars. This person said this happy hour is unofficial, unsanctioned and very, very, very BYOB.
Terry Owens, a spokesperson for the Maryland Transit Administration or MTA, says he's heard a bit about this underground happy hour, but he doesn't know much.
MR. TERRY OWENS
We are aware that some of our passengers will enjoy an adult beverage or a snack while riding home from work. It's not anything that's sanctioned by the MTA, but sort of an informal agreement among passengers, among themselves.
We wanted to find out more about this alleged makeshift salon on wheels so we sent WAMU's transportation reporter, David Schultz, out to investigate.
MR. DAVID SCHULTZ
On a late Friday afternoon at D.C.'s Union Station, the Union Wine and Liquor Store is packed and just a few yards away from the platform where riders board the MARC trains. For the most part, people buy 24-ounce cans of beer and those tiny bottles of wine you see on airplanes or in hotel room bars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #1
Friday afternoon, I guess.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE #2
It's one of those things.
This gentleman here is purchasing some screw-top rose-colored zinfandel, the cheap stuff, as he describes it. His name is Scott. He wouldn't give his last name because he's supposed to be at work. Scott takes MARC's Brunswick line every day out to western Maryland and he says he's seen his fellow commuters knock a few back.
It's been known to happen.
Unofficially, of course, but there's precious little else to do on the Brunswick line.
Scott and I are on the same train so I follow him on the platform and we take our seats. A few people are chatting and having some drinks, but Scott says the party doesn't really get started until after the train gets past Montgomery County and out to the semi-rural towns of far western Maryland.
It's really two different sets of people. A lot of the people far out have been taking this line for many years and they know each other and, you know, by first name. They know the conductors, they know all their family, their kids, everything and a lot of the people who are closer in, treat it like a big subway and it's much more impersonal, I think.
Elsewhere on the train, the accessory of choice is not a can of beer, but rather an ipod or a good book and striking up a conversation can earn you a sideways glare.
This is the quiet car.
This is the quiet car, where riders implicitly agree to leave each other alone. Defense Department worker and regular MARC rider Larry Krauser is up here reading the back page of the daily commuter newspaper, The Express. Krauser says he knows the other cars can be more fun and boisterous, but he prefers to sit here.
MR. LARRY KRAUSER
I can detox at end of the day.
Krauser says he occasionally catches a glimpse of the revelry in the happy hour car and he approves. After all, he says, as long as they aren't behind the wheel of a car, why not live and let live?
They have a lot of fun. Usually, if I have to walk through and walk behind them, they're enjoying themselves.
When the train gets to my stop, I'm still not sure this happy hour car thing even exists. I saw several people drinking, but they were doing it quietly in small groups or like our friend, Scott, alone.
All right. Well, see you later, Charlie.
I need to find someone who's an authority on the subject, someone who knows about anything and everything that happens on the train. So just as the train is pulling out I buttonhole two of the conductors.
I got to ask you one question, what can you tell me about the happy hour car on the MARC?
We don't have one.
No happy hour car? I heard a rumor there was.
Well, that's on the Pan Line.
Yes, it sounds like a rumor.
So there you have it. The MARC train conductors are shocked, shocked to find that drinking is going on in here. And with that, the train pulls out of the station. The conductors turn their heads and look forward or to put it differently, they turn their heads and look the other way. I'm David Schultz.
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