“Attention, passengers…the next Red Line train to Alewife is now approaching.”
Have sweeter words ever been spoken? I mean, sure, my husband’s vows on our wedding day were nice, all that jazz about how he falls in love with me a little more every day and yada, yada, yada. But those words weren’t followed by a giant, magical transportation machine that zips you all over town for a whopping two bucks (although his were followed an expensive dinner I couldn’t eat because of a sadistic corset hellbent on my ribs’ destruction).
I’m talking, of course, about the Boston subway system, known locally as the T (which, in an effort to save some face, I won’t tell you how long it took me to figure out that that stood for “train”…I swear I have a college degree…two, in fact…*hangs head in shame*).
Update: Wrong again…just found out “T” stands for transportation. I swear, I graduated top of my class! *crawls into hole in the ground*
Anyhoo, being the country bumpkin that I am, I had never ridden on the subway before moving here. OK, granted, when I told my best friend Misty that, she insisted we rode the subway in 8th grade during our class field trip to Washington D.C., but I have absolutely no memory of that (and you can’t even blame it on being drunk…I didn’t start drinking until 9th grade).
I’ll never forget that frickin’ freezing Saturday right after my husband and I got here and we hopped on the T for the first time (Look at me! Saying cool city slicker things like “hopped on the T!”). So fast. So loud. So exciting. So confusing. So much deliberating about whether we needed tickets for the inbound train or for the commuter rail.
Embarrassing public displays of tourist-y mistakes aside, I fell in love instantly. Since the age of 16, my driving skills have only improved marginally (just to give you an idea of those skills, within the first year of getting my license, I lost three tires, ran out of gas four times and got into a fender destroyer with the world’s largest Ford truck). So driving in a city ain’t what you would call my bag. Not to mention, as much as I love conversing with random cabbies, they generally get cranky when you offer to pay them with your actual arm and leg.
So the fact there is a mode of transportation that gets me where I want to go that is convenient, cheap and bypasses traffic jams? Utterly amazing. In fact, I love the subway so much, I’d kiss it if I wasn’t so worried about the mysterious disgusting fungus popping up somewhere on my body that would inevitably follow.
Oh, and the people watching! The people watching, people! Hours of non-stop entertainment.
There was the older gentleman sitting in the corner who took his shoe off and rubbed his foot back and forth on a tennis ball for nine straight stops (Was it some kind of foot therapy? Did he bring the tennis ball from home? Or find it randomly on the subway and thought to himself “Hmm…I bet this would feel good?”).
There was the delightful woman in the tasteful purple track suit who used her outside voice to talk on her cellphone about that “rat bastard” and his less than desirable bedroom skills.
The woman who kept pulling out and munching on an increasingly exotic array of fruit and vegetables from a convenience store bag (including some pink doo-hickey that I couldn’t even identify).
The young toddler who had absolutely no sense of stranger danger and kept running up to every other passenger, arms stretched out in the international baby sign of “pick me up,” followed by his weary mother.
The drunk girl who kept hiccupping and then giggled after every time she hiccupped (which, according to my husband, was me last Wednesday…God, how I love all the Irish pubs around here!).
And perhaps my favorite, the Boston cast of 90210 who, like, totally did everything in their 16-year-old power to get the attention of the total hottie college dudes sitting a few seats down (including perfecting their mating call of high-pitched squeals).
To most people, these kinds of things would be annoying. But I find them fascinating. I even find joy in the 5 p.m. crush rush, where 600 people try to cram into a 40-capacity train car and chances are high you’ll become very intimate with someone’s armpit or buttocks region, depending on where you end up in the fray.
Now, I’m sure after living here for awhile, I’ll find all these things less than charming. But I hope not.
I, as well as the fellow residents of Boston, sure as hell don’t want me attempting to drive around here.