Monday, January 25, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: post-storm commute

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

"Excuse me, but I'm wondering if there is a way you can squeeze in a bit more?" asked a slender girl to the man standing in front of her. 

His eyes widen as he looks behind him at the tightly packed mass on the bus and then back at her.

"I only need to go a couple of blocks," she continues to plead. Hoping that a space will magically appear that will allow her (and only her) onto this overpacked vehicle.

Smiling kindly, his response brought choked-back giggles that rippled through the whole vehicle. "Sure. I'll just have to remove some ribs. Oh, and that old lady there can get tossed. Cause, you know, it's all about making sure you don't have to walk those 2 blocks."

Over the past 3 months, I've learned how to wrestle with the transit system in Boston. A different beast from Seattle due to the trains, lack of water to navigate and the fact that it's far older, it's been an interesting education dealing with people on this level of intimacy. 

Following any event that deviates from the norm, though, the system is easy throw into complete chaos. I've learned with snow to avoid the trains at all costs. With sporting events, I leave early (or much, much later) to make it home. 

But one other secret is learning to work with people. Specifically in quietly demanding access, but also knowing not to overstep boundaries that cause pain to everyone else. 

This morning was the perfect storm for all of this. Parents carting small children where quickly given access to transit, but one mother was informed that there was no way the bus could also accommodate her B.O.B stroller. The slender girl who was trying to whine her way on the bus, was quickly distracted by an older woman who suggested they grab a cup of coffee to warm them as the walked to the next T stop. And people did pack in, exchanging information about what part of the system was down and sharing strategies for how to access the downtown core. 

All of that combined with jokes and much needed rounds of laughter following comments about getting to know your neighbor on a whole new level.


  1. Did Boston get much snow? I had a friend that is in central MA that said she got practically nothing. Commuting when everything is tight and cramped sure is interesting. We are so lucky that it is not an every day occurrence like it is in say India!

  2. I've never had to navigate a public transportation system as packed as you're describing, but it sounds like people made it work in one way or another. It actually seems like people really were pretty nice about everything. Did you get a lot of snow?

  3. It reminds me of getting onto buses in Bangkok, or the tube in London. I've never actually been to Japan where they have people whose role is to shove you in so the doors can close. But at least in these cities, the next bus/train would be along relatively quickly. I don't know what it is like in Boston. (Though it is on my list of places I want to go).

    About the slender girl though ... it reminds me of a young woman who was a year or two ahead of me during our graduate programme. She looked fine. But she had a heart issue, and literally could not walk a block or two. She was frequently (apparently) criticised by other commuters when getting on and off the bus, or given nasty looks.

  4. Your town would be a really great place to negotiate personal boundaries. Sounds like you're on the right track.

    (How did Slender Girl react when/if she heard the guy say that? (Or had she already gone to coffee?)

  5. I forget about mass transit since I moved from the NYC area up to western NY, trading crowded subway cars for my car. All the space in the world, but I am the one driving. I miss reading on the train. Although for this system, I think you'd kicked off for trying to have the space to read a book! :) I hope you fared okay in the storm and your commutes even out to the normal hustle and bustle.

  6. That is the one silver lining (not to make a pun with your blog title) to events like these. I ended up talking to neighbours I had never met. And I ended up being disgusted by other people's whining or selfishness.

  7. Ugh T drama. One of my good friends takes the red line daily and a few times a month sends some crazy story out by e-mail to those of us who commute some other way. I spent high school on buses and college on the green line- but try not to take it as an adult. I'm too grumpy.

  8. Having survived both the Toronto subway system as well as GO Transit (commuter rail service) at rush hour, I can relate...!

  9. This is precisely why I love crisis ... it makes for much better neighbors! :) I wish we could find that connection more often ... thank you for sharing this lovely vignette!


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