Tags: Balls on Nose, MBTA, Performance art that doesn't suck
A couple of months ago, I was sitting on the side of the train, at the end of the car, in the seats facing the aisle, as opposed to the ends, of the train.
By the Winchester stop, the aisle had gotten pretty packed. A man stood directly in front of me, with his arm above my head, holding the support rail for balance.
Because there were so many people surrounding him, he had to squeeze in, forcing his intimate region to be level with, and in close proximity to, my facial region.
And so we rode, from Winchester to Wedgemere to West Medford to North Station, with his balls dangling on my nose. It was the worst commute ever.
In contrast, seeing this in North Station would probably make for the best commute ever. I bet Gary would hop right in the midst of it for a graceful, impromtu two-step with a Dunkin’ Donuts barista. And I would cry and cheer like a schoolgirl.
Tags: Commuter Rail, Commuting lessons, MBTA
A couple of weeks ago, the MBTA distributed a survey to solicit feedback on its performance. I attempted to complete it, only to be foiled by a convoluted line of questioning that was too challenging for my feeble mind.
For example, here is question 6A:
6a. How long did it take to get from where this trip started to the first place where you boarded a public transit vehicle on this trip?
I started in Lowell, which was also where I boarded the public transit vehicle. So it took no time at all, right? Should it have? And even if I had boarded in Wilmington, wouldn’t I have also started in Wilmington? Or would I measure the time from Lowell, where the line starts, to Wilmington? And if so, am I to assume that the trip left Lowell on time? How would I know?
The questions proceeded in this way, bending my mind with their leaps from my present trip to trips I’d taken and then off to theoretical trips that I might one day take. When I asked a fellow commuter to confirm the cryptic syntax of the survey, she suggested that I might be overthinking the matter. Though I suspect she was too unnerved by my astounding looks to adequately focus her own thoughts, I will concede the possibility that I may be too dumb or too impatient for the MBTA survey. But I maintain nonetheless that it could have been more reader friendly.
Because I was incapable of providing my feedback through the conventional channel, I would like to instead use this space to publicly praise two of the MBTA’s finest employees, Gary the Conductor and Female Conductress Whose Name I Don’t Know.
Gary is the conductor who, morning after morning, transports us without incident to North Station. Like so many of the last Great Americans, he is a man of few words. And he is super-dapper.
When he strides down the aisle to check tickets, it evokes images of Cary Grant or Fred Astaire. He is light on his feet, this Gary, breezing by with a subtle nod to the regulars as he acknowledges their monthly Charlie cards, and effortlessly manipulating his hole puncher to mark tickets for those just passing through. (I’m always astounded by the number of holes that need to be made on a ticket for one trip. So many holes, what do they all mean? It looks like fun, and I sometimes wish that my job required more hole punching.)
One morning, Gary chided me for exiting the train before it had reached a complete stop. I felt like a shamed little boy. He did not raise his voice or berate me in front of the other passengers. He just gave me a stern look and warned me not to do it again. He was right too because I damn near tore an ACL that day. The train was crawling into North Station and couldn’t have been exceeding 1 mph. But Kanye was in my headphones getting me all fired up for the day to come, so I prematurely stepped onto the platform all cool and shit. I was not cool, dear reader. I had underestimated the speed at which we were traveling, and my body was ill prepared for the transition to stationary ground. Had I not jogged that shit out a couple steps, I would have suffered a humiliating and potentially grave face-first digger.
My point is that, if you asked me to show you a Real Man, I would show you Gary the Conductor. Confidence. Dignity. Manners. Style. And a 10-pound belt buckle of a locomotive barreling down the tracks. Gary understands his job and performs it with aplomb. He was born to wear that conductor hat and never looks distressed or unhappy, though I’ve never seen him smile. For that, I’m somewhat remorseful because I’d like to see Gary smile. But perhaps it would in some way compromise his mysterious aura of debonaire charm. I bet he got a lot of ass in his day.
Then there is Female Conductress Whose Name I Don’t Know. There have been several occassions in which I almost laerned Contductress’s name. It’s right on the badge that hangs around her neck, dangling before her ample bosom. But whenever I get the right angle, the badge flips over, concealing her identity and thwarting my curiosity.