Friday, November 22, 2013
Taking the T
Welcome to the T - the one mode of transportation where the crying baby is actually welcomed over the various other atrocities that surround you on your daily commute.
Never mind the fact it's never on time and that half of the drivers seem to be locked in a lifelong game of "how many schmucks' arms can we shut the doors on," it's that second you step onto the T that your perception of reality changes. You could literally win the lottery the night before, and as soon as you tap your card the next morning, you feel like you were robbed of the only two dollars to your name and thrown from a roof.
I've taken the T sparingly for much of the past five years, but the work commute has regrettably made it essential. Over the years I've made myself a set of rules for riding because one wrong move and you're in a world of trouble.
Rule #1) If a crazy person isn't staring at you, then YOU are the crazy person. You just have to suck it up and deal with someone eyeballing the stuffing out of you. Who knows what forces compel these lunatics to hold eye contact for a good six stops, so its best you either bury yourself in your phone, or if you feel like living on the wild side, pay it forward and stare down another unsuspecting victim.
Rule #2) Assume everyone on the T has been raised by wolves. Trust me, everything will make a lot more sense. You're nuts if you think someone is going to move out of the way for you either getting on or trying to get off the train, which makes that one time is does happen a bigger miracle than Moses parting the Red Sea. And if you think people on the train know how to communicate in English or any other human language, just hop off and flag down a cab... then jump in front of it.
Rule #3) DO NOT sit down. Ever. The train can be entirely empty, but the odds are heavily stacked against you that the next person to saunter aboard will want your exact seat. And its not like you can say no to someone who asks you (for those of you who think "oh, I would already have offered my seat to someone," refer back to Rule #2). Just don't do it, because you also then run the risk of getting sat on -- I wish I was kidding.
Rule #4) For the love of all that is holy, spread your feet if you're standing up. Apparently most T drivers are either hammered drunk or are failed stunt drivers because they take no prisoners going around turns or stopping at intersections when they're on the street. I'm pretty sure I know now where Christopher Nolan shot that zero-gravity scene with Joseph Gordon-Levitt from "Inception." Nothing will make you more susceptible to those I've warned about in Rule #1 than a nice game of human Plinko in the aisle.
Rule #5) Always take the back car. Getting in the front car can be compared to walking into a rainforest on Mars. The back car has anywhere from one to three more sane human beings in it, but at this point, you take what you can get.
Rule #6) As bad as the T is, if you take the bus, all bets are off. You're screwed. I once witnessed two women step on the bus. One sat down while the other went to pay. She tapped her card, then afterwards flipped out on the driver for not giving them the senior discounted price that she had asked for (because that's how that works?) As she was flailing around, she decided to retell the story of how she walked on the bus 14 seconds ago, reenacted the card tapping and found herself out another two dollars. The grand finale was her banging on the door demanding to get off so she could go get a police officer to arrest the driver. (Note: that linked story was not that same woman...at least I don't think it was, it is unconfirmed at this time)
That was one time out of five total times I have been on the bus. Twenty percent of my time riding an MBTA bus, there has been a looney bin escapee yelling at the driver.
Keeping these rules in mind will in no way enhance your T experience, but they may save your life one day, so take heed. If you have any other rules that I'm forgetting, feel free to share.