14 April 2009

neither irrelevance nor home-feeling

(Cross-posted to LiveJournal)

The cover of today's Metro is pretty grim for those of us who use public transportation in the greater Boston area. The T has a $160 million budget deficit, and the proposed remedy is service cuts. Brilliant--because if people can't take the T, the MBTA will certainly earn back that deficit. Oh, yeah. That'll work.

More useless complaints:

The T loses money because it's a slow and antiquated system that can't provide service to as many riders as it should (were it faster and more reliable). They spend all their money on cosmetic [stuff] like the Arlington stop (which still isn't finished, though I see workers there every single bloody day), yet the Green line as a whole is entirely defunct--especially at street level. Trains that are beholden to traffic lights and thrown out of schedule by automobile traffic? ... Miserable. You might as well be in a car at that point, and it shouldn't be surprising that some people choose that route instead.

Ugh. And then ...

Entering North Station from the Garden, there were members of the MBTA security handing out fliers of the "See Something, Say Something" variety. Shiny, colourful fliers. I didn't take one. Past the ticket turnstiles, said shiny fliers are crumpled and strewn down the escalator and patching little sections of the floor in glossy scarlet and white, abandoned by their five-second owners. And all I can think is: How much did those cost?

If you see something, don't say something. That takes too long, and whatever it is you're seeing might disappear while you're flapping your gums. Just pummel the perpetrator about the head with a bag (or, you know, whatever's handy). It's faster, more effective, and you'll eventually attract some sort of official attention if you carry on like that.

P.S. If you're the sort of person to actually take my advice, don't really do any of the aforementioned things. I kid. Well ... insofar as safety goes. If someone is physically attacking you on the T (or anywhere else, for that matter), I think you should feel free to pummel away. Self-defense and all that.


I also can't help but be reminded of Lovecraft--because I'm still stuck there. Towards the end of "At the Mountains of Madness", the vague allusion he supplies in describing the shoggoth creature is quite recognisable to anyone who rides the T. A man named Danforth, having glimpsed the oncoming bulk of the creature, falls to pieces and the narrator observes his chanting: "South Station Under--Washington Under--Park Street Under--Kendall--Harvard. ..."

We don't say "Under" anymore, but the stops are still there, though Washington is now Downtown Crossing and Charles/MGH has been added to the list.

Anyway, I think the T is a kind of monster--just not as resilient a one as Lovecraft's shoggoth, which is a shame.

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