Subway Stories: These MBTA Days

MBTA Sign for JFK/UMass station.

Tuesday morning I got a text from a friend warning me about the Red Line because of a derailment. The T is always a mess and the Green Line had just derailed a few days before. Unfortunately, this has become a regular thing. So I figured more of the same.

Then I looked at Twitter and saw MBTA and Red Line trending, but not just locally in Boston. Nationally. That’s never good.

Because of the Wollaston Station renovation, for more than a year my commute is negatively impacted and each additional situation makes it that much worse. It’s so frustrating that the powers that be, who could change things, don’t seem to care at all.

Each time something happens, they talk about how things are improving and for us to be patient. But they are not taking the train. It’s also dangerous. Is it going to take a mass casualty situation with  multiple people killed and injured for something to really change? I really hope not.

It’s that much more of a slap in the face, when we are told to seek alternate transportation. If we had alternate transportation, we would use it! Now! If parking downtown were more affordable and the traffic were not so bad, I would drive. Every day!

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A Song Is Born

Anyway, yesterday morning I woke up and the theme from All in the Family was in my head for whatever strange reason and I kept humming it.

Then I started thinking about the horrible commute I would soon be facing and the words to the theme songThose Were The Days.

“Someone should switch the words to something about the T,” I thought. Then I started thinking about lyrics. Long story short. I am a writer. However I never thought of myself as a song writer.

But when words start swirling around in my head and I can’t get them out, the best way to stop the chatter is to write them down and do something with them.

So I wrote lyrics for a song called These MBTA Days to the tune of Those Were The Days for my own sanity and amusement. Hope you enjoy them too! 🎶

🎹

Mixed signals you do send.
I hope we don’t have a tragic end.
You make me wait over and over again.
These MBTA days.

Me with an awful hangnail.
So of course you decide to derail.
We could use a leader like Elizabeth Warren who always has a good plan.

Remember the three days the T ran great?
Now I try to contain my rage.
When I get home, I’ll burn some sage.
To wipe away these MBTA days!

🎼

Wollaston Station Renovation

Wollaston Station MBTA train tracks, with a brick wall on left, and the bright yellow line on the subway platform on the right.

Over the years, I’ve often written about my commute. Subway Stories grew out of the weirdness of riding the T.

So. My commute is about to get a bit more involved. I go to Wollaston Station and it’s about to undergo a significant renovation. The construction will make it accessible, according to NBC Boston.

The article says that there will also be new elevators, bathrooms, additional lighting and better stairways. Security will improve and the flooding problem will hopefully be eliminated. The renovations may start next month and could continue through June 2020.

The changes are long overdue and I’m glad they’re happening. But the timing has been a bit up in the air and still seems subject to change. Oh and the main issue, at least for me, is that the station is going to close for several years. Yup. Years.

While I was in the CVS near the station, people were talking about how they wondered if the closure would impact the number of people visiting the store.

Shuttle buses will replace the train between Wollaston and North Quincy stations. It probably won’t be that big of a deal, but will add some time to my commute in to Boston.

The third public meeting  [PDF] will take place Wednesday, June 21st, 6:30pm at the Central Middle School Auditorium. I’m not sure if I’ll be going yet, but I’m considering it. What about you?

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*Updated 9/17/2017*

Just read a Boston.com article stating that the closure will be in late December.

Subway Stories: Is The Biggest Loser in Boston?

Biggest Loser Subway StoriesTaking the T provides an endless source of stories. The things people talk about in front of dozens of strangers still surprises me. Sometimes these strangers haunt me for days or more. I  think about them and wonder, “What happened to them?” That’s why I started the Subway Stories series on my old blog.

When I got on the train one day last week, I noticed a woman with a huge suitcase in front of her. Several colorful plastic bags were piled on it and beside her. Her head was slumped down on her chest and I hoped that she did not smell. She didn’t. I sat on a seat across from her.

I could tell that she was homeless. The longer I looked at her, the more sad I felt. I tried not to stare, but she was directly in front of me. She was an elderly woman, with a bright baseball cap that was pink and purple with sparkles.

It wasn’t that cold, but she had on a long fur brown coat. Her pale veiny fingers had pretty rings on most of them. She had a cute pocketbook, with the strap slung around her neck and resting on her lap.

You could tell she was a stylish woman. She was thin and had chin length blonde hair. Her face was deeply lined and look strained. She was sleeping, then waking up and looked restless. Nervous. Afraid. I could see a hospital bracelet on her wrist peeking out from under her sleeve. She must be sick. Or at least she had been.

I couldn’t stop wondering, “How did this get to be her present situation?What kind of society lets this happen?

She needed help. She looked newly homeless. Like she had just been put out and still had all her prized possessions with her. Maybe it happened while she was in the hospital? All the possible scenarios buzzed through my mind. She was trying to figure it out, but was so tired.

Was there was anything that I could do? I thought about asking her. Trying to help. Did she have children? Did they abandon her? Maybe she had no children like me. Would this be my fate too?

I didn’t say anything to her. I had to get to work and make some money while the opportunity was there. So many of us are close to becoming her. It’s so easy to slip between the cracks. It’s one of my worst fears….

***

Another encounter that screamed Subway Stories happened just the next day on the train. I was sitting to the left of a man talking on his phone. You can see his legs and hand in the picture above. It’s so strange listening to one side of a conversation, because you can only imagine the questions being asked by the other person.

Here are a few things he was saying, “I’m doing fine. Trying to stay healthy. People say I look good, but I don’t see it.

I quickly looked at him, because I was too curious not to. He seemed like an average guy. Then he goes on. “Yeah. Waiting for the big reveal to see everyone.”

Hmmm. That’s not something that you hear everyday. Then I started wondering, “Who is this guy? Is he on The Biggest Loser or something?

He said that he got his teeth fixed and his wife is afraid that he is going to leave her for someone else. He kept saying over and over that she has nothing to be worried about. He loves his wife. He truly loves her and does not want to be with anyone else. No matter what.

The things you see and hear on the T…. Until the next new edition of Subway Stories, click the links for the archives.

Subway Stories: The Red Line on the MBTA Today

As I tweeted earlier, it’s never good when you see your commute destination trending on Twitter. I wish there were a good parking alternative, because I would just drive in instead of taking the Red Line.

 

It’s not snowing out. It’s not that cold. The T should be functioning. But it’s not.

Red Line alert

I’m hoping that time has eased the problem and that when I get to the train, everything will be cleared up. Let’s hope.

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Screenshot: MBTA.com.

Subway Stories: Girl Scout Cookies


As I left work last night, I was considering baking this weekend. When I walk, I find my mind creating recipes and the idea of rosemary shortbread was swirling in my head. Then I arrived at South Station to catch the train and saw a table with Girl Scout Cookies.

Talk about a mind shift! I literally stopped in my tracks and frantically started rummaging through my pocketbook to see how much cash I had. I hadn’t made it to the bank, so there wasn’t much. Was I only going to be able to get one box of Girl Scout Cookies?!

Luckily, the Girl Scouts have evolved with the times and they take bank cards now. I got three boxes of cookies: Lemonades, Shortbread and Thin Mints. G and I devoured the Lemonades yesterday. They are so perfect!

Today, I need to lay off the cookies and burn some of those calories off. But I’m looking forward to eating the rest. Maybe I’ll pick up some more as this cookie season continues. The Girl Scouts hit the jackpot of locations being inside the T and certainly helped make my commute much sweeter!

Happy Weekend to you!

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Screenshot: Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts