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A Tale of the T

Monday 9/7/20

Walked eleven miles, ran 2600 stairs.


I don't think you'd get a lot of resistance in Boston if you said the worst run system in the city is that of the T--the subway and commuter rail, if you're not from here and aren't familiar with the shorthand, but the subway portion is the disaster. Last year some cars caught on fire. The conductors are often massive dicks. You'll wait twenty-five minutes for a car, then two will show up practically touching each other. Out at BC--where I run my stairs now--the conductors are even bigger dicks, because they hate the students. Don't get me wrong, they love to dick it up in the rest of the city. You'll see people run through puddles, dodge traffic, to get to the train before it leaves, and the conductors love nothing more than timing it so that just when that person is about to climb the step, they shut the door. T people love that shit. It's like scoring a goal for them in overtime.


I had various problems over the years as a student. One time I was out at Riverside, on the D line. That's near Cleveland Circle, where the C line is, and a couple blocks up Chestnut Hill Ave., you have the B line, which runs to BC. That one has the most stops and takes the longest time. The B line sucks. I got on the D way back then, and the conductor starts yelling, "Hey, you, I see what you did. Get up here and pay." I'm sitting down at that point, reading my book. Rarely--unless I'm working out--do I go anywhere without a book. Go out on a date with me, I show up with a book. I'd feel weird without a book. Doing anything non-sweaty. And I'm already in my Flaubert or whatever it was.


Well, turns out the conductor was talking to me. I, of course, paid. Can you imagine me as some filcher of T rides? Yeah, that's how I was. Fucking T-Zorro. Meanwhile, this kid across from me--clearly the person who didn't pay--is laughing his ass off, because this other dude is getting blamed. So I turn and I say, "I did pay you, you jackboot, drive on, I'm not paying you twice." Major shouting from this guy, across the T, like I'm Jack the Ripper, which I'm really enjoying, with hot women looking at me like I'm crazy, perhaps violent. Tells me he's going to notify security. But I'm not getting off this fucker. Kid keeps laughing. Eventually we leave, get to the next stop, and sure enough, the T security is waiting for me. What the fuck. These days, if I had said "clearly this guy laughing his ass off is the more likely bandit," we might have had a national scandal, given that this kid was African-American.


So. I'm at BC today. Run the stairs. Sweaty. I can pass for a student in the right context, and in the right garb. I get it a lot. I get on the T at the first stop, to ride the B line to Park Street. From there, it's a mile walk back home. The T card, when I swipe it, says "expired." Which makes no sense. First of all, I put twenty bucks on it the other day. Secondly, the cards have no time stamp. Not this kind. There's no built-in value. You put value on it. So you'll have the same T card for like ten years. You just keep filling it up. It's a carrier, with no intrinsic value or expiration.


Angry looking, paunchy T guy barks at me that I need to pay cash. I say to him what I said above--in fewer words--and he just lies, in his thick Boston accent, says it expires. This will be a nice moment for him. They love this. Tiny power means so much to tiny people. He tells me to put in the cash, then get a card which will shoot out--it's like a receipt--and my change. I only had a twenty and a five. He says it will be three bucks. I put in the five, the receipt comes out, no change. This guy had an overpowering smell of luncheon meat, so he probably just had a bologna sandwich and sweats a lot--telltale sign of a heavy drinker. I ask him where the change is, he says there isn't any. Fucking asshole. I could totally see this guy going home, quaffing a dozen Bud Lites, gnawing on a log of soppressata, kicking his dog, then jerking off onto his belly before passing out and picking at the crusted gut hair in the morning.


We get to Park Street, and I go over to the payment stations they have, where you can check the value on the card. And sure enough, it's $20.71 or whatever.


Oh--I wrote an excellent op-ed on The Golden Girls in my head. I'll formally write it early in the morning. Hopefully will be able to sell it.