Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tales of the T

In the Boston area, we are fortunate (?) to be served by the MBTA, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority. Boston is the first city to have been served by a subway; the system opened in 1897. But, of course, the system has been modernized since then. Based on the way the system operates today, I’d say the last modernization probably occurred no later than 1921 or so, making it a marvel of modern-day subway transportation.

Locals call the MBTA system the “T” for short

Led by General Manager Daniel Grabauskas, whose claim to fame other than the fact that the letters in his name can be rearranged to spell “skid rag anal abuse,” served as Massachusetts Transportation Secretary under Future Former Presidential Also-Ran Governor Mitt “Whom I’m Talking To Dictates My Beliefs Today” Romney, the MBTA is run by a group of highly paid professionals so totally inept that you would swear it’s probably part of the federal government’s Welfare to Work program in which they give jobs to people whose sole activity for most of their adult lives was figuring out how to avoid work. This skill comes in very handy as an employee of the MBTA. But that will be another blog entry for another day. From time to time I will entertain you with stories about the MBTA. I hope my peeps in New Orleans especially enjoy this since down there, we have NO public transportation to speak of. The grass ain’t always so much greener, my friends.

So we’ll get to some engaging stories about MBTA professionals another time. Today I’d like to focus on:

Cleanliness on the T

There are signs on every train that say the following verbatim: “Your tax dollars pay to clean this vehicle. Please do your part by removing your items upon departure.”

Does this seem contradictory to you? I can never figure out why they bother to put in the line about the tax dollars. That puzzles me. Because to me, if I’ve paid my taxes, then I’ve already done “my part.”

A lot of other people must feel exactly as I do, because I’ve seen some total slobs on the T.

Gum Disposal
Once there was a mother and a little boy, around 7, standing next to me. The boy was chewing gum. The boy looks up at his mother and said, “Mommy, this gum don’t have no more flavor,” and then he spit the gum right on the floor! I looked down and it missed my shoe by like an inch & a half. I looked at the mother, incredulous. Her only reaction was to shake her head and with an amused smile, say, “Oh, Demetrius!” Then she reached into her purse and gave him another piece!!

He unwrapped the piece, put it in his mouth, and dropped the wrapper right next to the chewed up piece on the floor. I looked from the chewed piece, to the wrapper, to the boy, to the mother. Could they not make the connection that not littering would only have entailed wrapping the chewed piece in the wrapper from the new piece and holding it until they got off the train?

Mickey D’s
A couple of months ago I was riding during a rather slow time of day where there weren’t too many people on the train. There was a late-teens, early-twentyish girl sitting across from me eating McDonald’s chicken nuggets and French fries. As I looked at her, I started thinking that there is no way this girl is going to take her trash with her. I don’t know what made me think that; she just looked like the type that is all wrapped up in herself and wouldn’t care enough to bring her trash with her off the train.

She finished her food, crumpled her napkin up into the nuggets box, crumpled that up and put it in the fries container, then put the whole kit ‘n caboodle (what’s a caboodle?) into the bag, crumpled the bag and continued to hold it for several more stops. I felt like an ass. Here I was, making judgments about this girl based solely on how she looks, the fact that she was dressed kind of trashy, had a few weird looking tattoos showing, some piercings, and a look on her face like she couldn’t care less about anything. Obviously this girl, however she may look, had enough character to clean up after herself so that others on the train wouldn’t have to look at her trash, and an employee of the MBTA wouldn’t have to walk past it as he or she was supposed to be cleaning the train.

At her stop, she started to gather up her knapsack and stand up as she prepared to depart the train. We made eye contact and I gave a little smile and nod, and she nodded back. I felt bad that I had judged this girl, and then after the doors opened, right before she was about to leave the train, lo and behold she drops the bag on the floor of the train! She then walks out swiftly, having to shift her hips about two feet off the train in order to avoid bumping into a trashcan!!

Can you believe this? She holds the trash in her hand for about six or seven stops and then, about four feet from a trashcan, just throws the stuff on the floor! Why am I surprised?

Ground Coffee
It is not, however, only the grungy-looking teenagers and ignorant mothers with little kids who make messes on the T. Today there was a man dressed nicely in a tie and slacks drinking his Dunkin Donuts coffee obviously on his way to work. He got to his stop, the Back Bay, which is a pretty popular stop in the morning being in the heart of the downtown business district. As he was standing to exit the train, he dropped his coffee. At first I thought he was done and just a litterer, but now I think it might have just slipped from his hands because there was A LOT of coffee left in this cup. The coffee of course splashed all over the place and got onto another guy’s pants, which guy immediately started yelling at the guy with the coffee.

So you probably think that they guy with the coffee was mortified, picked up the cup and apologized profusely, right? You probably also think that little green men from Mars control the changing of the seasons. No, the guy just spat back, “F--- you!” to the guy onto whom he just spilled coffee, left the cup on the floor of the train and walked off. The guy with the ruined pants followed him off. The last I saw of them was when the train was pulling away. The two of them were still standing on the platform, faces mere molecules apart, spitting “F--- yous!” at each other while the MBTA policeman, obviously in full control of the situation, sat about 10 feet away flipping through his copy of Boston Common magazine.

Just another day on the T, my friends.


Kendra said...

The caboodle - " the whole lot" is the same as the word boodle, for "a pile of money", deriving from the Dutch boedal, "property". The whole kit, of course, means the entire outfit. The phrase doesn't read " the whole kit and boodle" because Americans like alliteration in speech and added a "k" sound before boodle in the phrase.

Another source offered that robbers used a "kit" and if they got away, it was with the kit and the boedel then the "ca" was added for emphasis.

You asked, I googled.

Brian said...

I'll be sure to leave my trash on the T for the next visit. The tax payer needs to see its hard earned dollars at work! LOL