Monday, February 2, 2015

How Was My First Day on the MBTA?

How Was My First Day on the MBTA?

I'm glad you asked. Let me tell you, step by step, how my day went.

1. After having zonked out before the Super Bowl ended, from exhaustion after dragging 1 heavy bag, a computer bag and a laden backpack all over Wakefield, I woke at 5am and prepared for my first day in Boston as a working stiff. Mind you, I had done my research, knew what bus to take and where to catch the subway. I went out into the stinging snow with just my computer case and my winter coat, layered over more clothes.

2. I went out of the motel where I'm staying (God help me it better be temporary) at 6am, knowing it would take me a few minutes to trudge through the snow to where the bus would stop.

3. And waited.

4. And waited. The snow stung, my feet felt frozen and I almost got run over by a snow plow while I waited for the bus. I seriously thought about going back to the motel and working from there, But I wanted to make the commute. Finally a bus came out of the quarter-mile visibilty, but IT was on time. The bus I wanted never came. Cue eerie portents of evil music and echos of frustration.

5. Yet a bus did come and I made it to Oak Grove T station at a point where I knew I would be late, so I called it in. It's a funny thing about subway stations: Any time stairs are involved there is an escalator going up, but not generally one going down. With my gimpy leg, and especially with icy/snow-covered steps, I took one step at a time. I think that cost me missing one train into the city, adding to my delay.

6. Yet into the city I ultimately traveled. I was lucky to have been at the beginning of the Orange Line when I caught the train, because as we traveled toward the city, more and more people got on. Even on a snowy, blustery day, people were willing to make the commute in. The whole train was packed by the time we got to my destination: North Station.

7. From North Station I was supposed to catch a shuttle to the building where I work. I'm grateful they provide the service, but I didn't know where to meet the shuttle, so I called my boss, who promptly told me he didn't have a clue, he always used the shuttle at South Station. He gave me the number of someone in the building, but he only took the South shuttle too. He suggested I ask around. I noticed most people heading in one direction, so I followed them. I found about half a dozen shuttles idling outside. Naturally mine was the last one.

8. The shuttle trip was uneventful, except for the slow pace of it. The driver took it nice and easy going in, and at that point I was just grateful I made it in. I got to work about an hour late.

9. After work, I took the shuttle back to North Station, and waited for the Orange Line train to come.

10. And waited.

11. And waited. I figure I spent more time waiting for trains and buses than actally traveling in them. The sign said the train would arrive in 15 minutes, then 12, then 8, then 2, then 2, then 2, then 2. The train did come eventually, and then they tried to close the doors. Bing Bong. One of the doors didn't close properly, the opened the door and tried to close them again. Bing Bong. Again. Bing Bong.

12. At this point I hear the voice of an old woman rise about the fray, cursing MBTA and accusing the conductor of 'playing with the doors.' She was loud, she was obnoxious. She was swearing so much a sailor would be embarrassed, and this continued for a good 15 minutes until finally, someone gave the ok to ignore the warning. We began to pull out and then the train slammed on the brakes. Old fussypants starts to rant and rave again.

13. Finally, we did pull out, but we were very slow throughout the process. Sparks flew from the top of the rain, and really made me worry something was going to catch fire. I know that sparking is normal, though I don't know why it happens. The lights would go out over and over, setting off the mentally ill woman who I coujld see by now was sitting in a corner with two full shopping carts filled with ????? And in case we couldn't figure it out by then, she shouted that she was homeless and if we didn't like that we could kill her now. She spoke to the air and to her self.

Part of me really felt for her. The formerly homeless part. The other part of me said this is why homeless people have a bad name. Part of me wanted to reach out, but then she started stinking, and I was exhausted and just wanted to go home. At the end of the line, the train went out of service and she demanded one of us help her get her carts out. She didn't want the help of the MBTA, and said we'd all die if we didn't help her. My sympathy only goes so far. If you can't help yourself, and aren't willing to seek the help of those trained to help you, then how am I supposed to help you? I care, but you're making it very difficult, lady.

14. Finally the train took me and Miss Stinkyfussypants to Oak Grove and I got off as quickly as I could, one more leg to go before getting home. So I waited, along with half a dozen others for the bus to take me home.

15. And waited.

16. And waited. Given how many people were waiting, and the nature of subway trains, you'd think MBTA would have buses running more often after 7pm. It makes for a very tiring day to work 8-5 in Boston.

Suffice to say, the last bus came and I am home, warm, dry and ready for bed.

I will find someplace a bit closer in the long run, but until then, I have to play the Mass Transit game.