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Random security checks?

October 27, 2010

So it’s been a very long while since I’ve blogged.  I have written many entries in my head, it’s just finding the time to get them out of my head that’s been a problem lately.  (Kind of like the voices).  Anyway, the two snazzy ladies who drive this ship have had some stuff going on lately so I decided that I should step up and be a team player.

We’ll start with the big, scary-looking men trolling through my train yesterday toting machine guns.  I was on the Red line, going north, and stopped at Lindbergh at about 4:45 yesterday afternoon.  The train operator got on the intercom and announced that the police would be performing a random security check as part of an ongoing effort to maintain our safety (or something like that).  I was expecting some regular old MARTA cops to do a quick walk-through.  Not so much.  One of the guys was in full riot-gear, minus the car-windshield-on-a-handle thingy.  Seriously, the dude had on a helmet, a machine gun slung over his shoulder, a handgun strapped to his leg, body armor, and a look on his face that said “I will kill you with my bare hands and totally not let it ruin my day.”  And he was wearing army green.  I think that the green uniform was almost more alarming than the machine gun.  The other two men looked like Atlanta Police but were decked out in really big bullet-proof vests.  Two men boarded the train and walked down the aisle checking all of us out while the other two walked at the same pace along the outside of the train, looking in the widows at the alarmed faces staring back at them.  I started thinking about Brian Nichols and how he took MARTA to escape from the courthouse down near Five Points.  I admit to have a flair for the dramatic but I don’t think that there have been many times in my life when I seriously thought that I might not make it home.  I recalled that I’ve been riding MARTA to school for four days a week for the past 14 months and have yet to see or hear about any kind of random security check.

CCT is my usual “what the hell’s going on with the trains today” point of contact.  But since she’s home in VA dealing with some family stuff I needed to come up with a Plan B.  This person needed to possess some in-depth knowledge of guns, danger, and why that one dude was wearing green.  Dare I say that I actually came up with someone who might know more about these things than CCT.  I texted my friend Mike, also known as The Straightest Guy I Know.  He was in the Army for six years, two of which were spent in combat in Iraq, he’s a trained sniper, got hurt several times fighting bad guys, and is still pretty funny and an all-around nice guy.  He thought that the man in green was likely SWAT.  He surmised that it was either a hostage situation or a bomb threat.  Just like that, as if he was telling me that he was thinking about grilling some steaks for dinner that night.  Yes, there is a reason why people like Mike put themselves in harm’s way for their country while I am afraid of spiders.

So the whole thing only lasted about 3 minutes, unless you count the two officers who stayed on my car with us until we reached North Springs.  People started getting freaked out, a few folks called loved ones, and some women across the aisle started talking about the probability of this whole thing actually being random.  One of them believed that it was and stated that she had seen some officers with police dogs at Five Points a few days earlier performing random checks.  I had to put in my two cents by mentioning that I was a frequent rider and had never seen anything like this before.  I think that I was just kind of angry.  I felt like MARTA was lying to me.  It was as though they were deciding for me if I was emotionally stable enough to handle unpleasant news about my safety and their decision was “no.”

So did anyone else have any similar experiences yesterday?  How did the scary men with machine guns make you feel?  Safer?  Suspicious?  Irritated that you weren’t going to make it home before traffic got really bad?

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Gleason permalink
    October 27, 2010 11:55 am

    Hi, I was also on the train going North Red line about 4:30. The riot gear and dogs (sniffed every bag) in my car and then the SWAT guys asked everyone to claim their bags and they accounted for every single one in my car.

    I was scared and never, ever have felt that way on the train. As a frequent business traveler I am a frequent business rider and encourage other’s in my profession to take Marta to and from the airport. I was debating getting off but once they cleared my car figured it was probably safer to stay on. I begin texting everyone I knew as well to let them know of risk I was potentially in.

    I wish MARTA would have explained what was going on so that we would feel more in control of our choice to stay on the train or call a loved one or a CAB for a ride.

  2. October 27, 2010 8:23 pm

    I am pretty sure no one knows more about guns, danger, green men, and transit but me. I’m offended.

  3. theurbanryan permalink
    October 27, 2010 9:21 pm

    Could be related to the terrorist plot that was discovered involving the DC Metro – I recall that the MARTA SORT team (similar to SWAT) was out in force after the London Tube bombings in 2005. Officers were patrolling the trains and posted at stations – sounds kind of like what you saw today. Always a surprise to see dogs and submachine guns on MARTA.

  4. The Straightest Guy permalink
    October 28, 2010 5:30 pm

    Dare I say nay CCT girl. You may have me on mass transit, but on weapons, explosives, mortal combat and the ability to pull off a green uniform in Fall—-you do not. = )

    Glad everything turned out well in the ATL.


    • October 28, 2010 7:06 pm

      Dear Straight Dude. I said: guns, danger, green men, and transit. Not weapons or explosives, and I’ll give you those, but I’ll challenge you on guns. As for green men and danger, I didn’t say uniforms. In fact, I didn’t specify which green men we were talking about. But since I said green men, I’m dafaulting to men with green skin, rather than uniforms, and this makes me more of an expert than you, because I made them up. And you don’t live in my mind. But they are very dangerous.

      I win.

      • theaccidentalcommuter permalink*
        October 28, 2010 11:35 pm

        Straight Guy fought in a war. With guns. And it was dangerous. However, he is a not-so-secret fan of the Real Housewives series on Bravo. I think that this somehow cancels out some of his Guns and Danger cred. But probably not enough to knock him down to second place. Sorry : (

  5. The Straight Guy permalink
    October 28, 2010 10:35 pm

    Touche` CCT girl. Touche` indeed.

    As you could tell I took certain liberties with the tome of my expertise, plus I think green uniforms are the best. I was disappointed when the Army went from standard BDU camo to the digitized stuff.

    In addition I’m sure I would not stand a chance in your mind and/or imagination. I’m sure I would be bound and dunked repeatedly in some vile pit of something, similar to Tuck Speedman (Ben Stiller) in “Tropic Thunder”.

    Kudos to CCTgirl and theaccidentalcommuter……and yes you still win. =)

  6. Debbie permalink
    October 29, 2010 3:47 pm

    Dear Accidental Commuter,
    Thanks for sharing your experience! I work for MARTA, and I think I would have responded the same way as you did! How frightening. In a way I understand why the Police handled it the way they did. In another, I wish they could have offered some reassurance.

    In an attempt to share the rider’s POV, I have forwarded your link to MARTA’s Police Chief and a few others.

    (I must have caught the train after yours, that was blissfully quiet, just packed to the rafters.)

    FB Lady

  7. December 10, 2010 7:47 pm

    I’ve seen the green men at least once a week for the last 3 months. I also feel as though Marta has taken a choice from me by not addressing the issue or being forthcoming with why this is necessary. While I appreciate the extra effort to protect us (assuming that is the purpose of the sweeps and presence of the officers) I’m frustrated with their disregard for the panic they’ve caused.


  1. To shoot, or not too shoot, that is the question « MARTA Rocks!

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