Monday, June 22, 2009

Euphemism Watch

As a relatively frequent Metro passenger I was horrified by the deadliest crash in Metro history that took place today. Laura actually told me about it from Miami, where it was all over the airport news monitors; I had actually just gotten off a different train on a different line at the time of the crash en route to picking up the kids from daycare and day camp.

Some time ago I signed up for the "e-alert" service from Metro, which more or less informs recipients of delays etc. Just now I checked my email and saw a stream of messages related to the crash. Perhaps not surprisingly but still weirdly, the terms used were "a train experiencing mechanical difficulties" updated to "police activity" at the nearest station to the accident.

I can understand the motivation behind the language but it is a jarring disconnect between these terse, anonymous, sanitized messages and the reality on the ground.


MLR said...

Regarding your "alerts," I recall a friend's brother who was a Laguardia in 1996(?) when a plane exploded over Long Island sound. The brother's flight was to leave about half an hour later. The airport turned off all of the CNN monitors, so that airline passengers would not know the reason for the delay. (Not so many cell phones, internet, in that day, I guess.)

Powaqqatsi said...

My wife, daughter & I were on that train almost exactly 24 hours earlier returning from a father's day outing at artomatic & dinner at Fado's