Washington, D.C. author Natasha Tynes set off an avalanche of criticism when she took to Twitter to call out a black Metro employee for eating on the train and reporting the worker to transit officials, The Washington Post reports.
Tynes, a Jordanian-American writer and employee of the World Bank, tweeted a photo of the woman on Friday. The photo showed a Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority employee in uniform, eating food while in transit. Tynes tagged the WMATA account, sharing that when she confronted the worker for breaking Metro rules, she was told to “worry about yourself.”
“When you’re on your morning commute & see @wmata employee in UNIFORM eating on the train. I thought we were not allowed to eat on the train. This is unacceptable. Hope @wmata responds,” Tynes wrote in a since-deleted tweeted.
Metro rules do indeed ban eating on buses and trains as well as in stations, though the rule is seldom enforced.
“Good morning Natasha,” a representative from Metrorail replied on Twitter. “Thank you for catching this and helping us to make sure all Metro employees are held accountable. Can you confirm the time you were on the train, the direction you were headed and what line you were on?”
While Metrorail may have been positive and responsive following Tynes’s message, the internet at large was not so sympathetic. Twitter users from around the globe responded fiercely, calling out Tynes as a self-described “minority writer” and lambasting her for apparently attempting to get a metro worker into trouble.
Barry Hobson, the chief of staff for the Metro workers union, released a statement in response to the controversy. Hobson pointed out that operators have an average of 20 minutes to finish eating their meal and make their way to their next access point, and that speed and promptness are necessary “to ensure all buses and trains are on time, safe, and ready to serve the riding public.”
Hobson’s statement also pointed out a recent mandate from Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik, which ordered that officers no longer issue criminal citations for violations including fare evasion, eating, drinking, and spitting.
“Understanding this email, our operator clearly was doing no wrong,” the statement continued.
Horrible Person Natasha Tynes Wanted Attention & Praise for Trying to Get Woman Fired For The Crime of Eating While Black; She Gives Fake Apology After People Called Her Out on Being a Terrible Human Being (Deleted Tweets) https://t.co/vDcjm1Y1Yj pic.twitter.com/hGs06Il4yy— Robert Littal (@BSO) May 11, 2019
Tynes has since apologized, saying she was “truly sorry” for the tweet. She also set her Twitter account to private.
Rare Birds Books, a publisher preparing to distribute Tynes’s upcoming novel, They Call Me Wyatt, announced that following the controversy, they have decided to part ways with Natasha.