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Cart carry, contractors, tour guides, cold Sam Adams (-es)

Tuesday 10/24/23

At what some would call early on Saturday morning, I was running stairs at City Hall when an elderly Asian woman started coming down the stairs with one of those carts that you'll see used outside. The cart was empty and I'm sure she was going to Haymarket. The fruit and vegetable market there is open on Fridays and Saturdays and many of the shoppers are older Asian women.

You don't have to take the stairs at City Hall. Instead, you can head towards State Street where the Boston Massacre happened and go around that way, though it's definitely a detour. But it's not as if you have to push your stroller with your baby in it down the stairs, or carry one or both up them. I have assisted in carrying many strollers during the years I've run these stairs, sometimes with the kid in them, and sometimes not.

I asked the woman if she wanted me to carry her cart to the bottom for her. She indicated that she did, so I picked it up and made my way down to leave it at the bottom, where she could retrieve it as I continued on with my workout. It was funny, though, because when I put the basket at the bottom, she exclaimed, "Is good!" from back above. Not like I might have been about to make off with the thing, but with urgency nonetheless or to show appreciation. We couldn't have had much more than a dozen words in common between us.

My building is on a corner. There is my actual street, Moon Street, which is one of the oldest streets in the country, and then there is Fleet Street. There's always construction happening outside on both streets. When I am writing, I am often doing so as one meathead conversation after another plays out. But it's not just conversation. A lot of the times it's just sounds. Men making noises because they have to, like they can't just close their mouths and focus on the task at hand. Vocables. They make them to each other. And at top volume. Then the butchering of the language, the horrible Boston accents, and classic meathead statements about sports. Still, they can all do things I could never do, with skills I'm the furthest from possessing. But it is very aggravating.

I hear the spiel of various tour guides every day, and the same tour guides. One tour stops on the corner I just mentioned (so I hear that one from my desk, multiple times each day), and then there's another that assembles right in the middle of where I run stairs at City Hall. I am usually there first and this one guy comes in with his group and fills up the space, which creates a problem because I don't move, and on some days I just keep running right through the middle of the group. The people are often like cows, standing there and doing all but grazing, not closely bunched but spread out, and too dim to realize that this guy is going that way, and then he's going the other way, and that's not going to change, so maybe don't stand ten feet back of the person in front of you so that I'm running in between. The tour guide could stand anywhere else, but he brings his group to the same damn place on the stairs every time.

The tour guides say the exact same thing every tour (unless they mess up one of their lines and get their facts wrong, as when I heard one of them remark the other day that Faneuil Hall was converted into a Georgian style from a Federal, which is backwards, though the guy usually gets this correct). You're getting Wikipedia history--but not even. They do the same jokes, the same beats, they pretend to forget and then remember the same things (like in how they'll insert a parenthetical remark as they're delivering one of their factoids, as if that other bit of info just came to them, and they use a different voice to deliver it).

I get that that's how it'd be, but you never say anything fresh or in a fresh way? The stair guy must have formed his company with a friend of his (similar in age) who does the tours, too, but not as many. Same script, same jokes, and same "life facts" from the "about me" part at the beginning. He's nervous. Not a commanding presence. The main guy is more of an oaf with an awkward way of speaking. He doesn't sound genuine.

There's another tour I pass through outside of Paul Revere's house, and then another tour that also makes a stop at the City Hall stairs--but in the middle of the stairs, where there should, in theory, be less traffic. That guy uses a headpiece microphone and is dressed as a Colonist. He's better, I'd say, but it's also the same patter, word for word.

Then there's the guy who does the tour that goes into the Granary Street Burying Ground, near the Common, which is where Sam Adams is buried. There's a bar across the street, and there have been so many times when I've been hustling by and I've heard this guy say, "It's the only bar in the country where you can have a cold Sam Adams while looking at a cold Sam Adams." People eat that line up.


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