Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Pro Tips: Riding the T

'Tis the season when Red Sox fans flock to our fair city like moths to a flame, adding congestion to the already groaning green line. While many of the tips below could also apply to Bostonians, asshat behavior is sort of expected around these parts year 'round. Bostonians are sort of jerks, it's part of their charm. You haven't lived until you've had an octogenarian tell you to go fuck yourself after you swiped the last strawberry Chobani off the shelf.

Simple common sense should be enough for all of these tips, but for some reason common sense seems to get left behind somewhere around Zakim Bridge. Perhaps making a run for it at the opening strains of "Sweet Caroline." Whatever the reason, recent events have made it clear that someone needs to speak out. I feel I am more than qualified as a daily rider of the green line.

1. Let people out of the train. I know, I know! You people who drive everywhere are thinking to yourself, "Uh, duh. People have to get off to make room for people getting on." But for some reason people simply can't grasp this concept. They seem to see a full train as a challenge, a call to action. "WE MUST ALL FIT ON THIS TRAIN OR THE DOORS WILL CLOSE AND WE'LL BE TRAPPED HERE ON THIS PLATFORM FOREVER!" You can see the fear in their eyes. Meanwhile, people who live here attempt to hold back and let people off before recognizing the futility. Either jump in front of the stream of people blocking the door or wind up crushed against the door, resigned to getting off and on at every stop. (And heaven help us all if someone from out of town ends up in that position. They will instead cling to the doorway, thereby making it impossible for anyone to enter or leave the train.) Related: If you are part of the mob responsible for blocking the egress of a little old lady trying to make her way out of the train you are, in fact, irredeemably an asshole.

2. Be mindful of people around you. This covers a wide variety of topics. Have you put on deodorant today? Does the music from your headphones make the entire car feel like "da club?" Do you understand the concept of "personal space?" Ah, let's do that one. The seats on the train, while more spacious than an airplane seat, leave little room from your neighbor. Sometimes a little touching can't be helped, but please do avoid sitting with your legs spread wide apart, arms akimbo. The person next to you isn't interested in touching you either, and all you've done is create less personal space for both of you. If you feel the need to nap and/or pass out, try to lean toward the window. Your seatmate will appreciate your consideration. Perhaps even enough to wake you at the final stop. Standing? Those trains can get pretty crowded, with people standing closer to you than your date to the junior high dance. Invading space is unavoidable so try to make it as pleasant as possible. Don't try to jockey for space on the pole. If someone beat you to the spot you want, suck it up. Do not start a contest to see how many times you can touch them until they move their hand. Additionally, try not to stand face to face with someone. Even turning just a fraction rescues you from an uncomfortable situation. Related: Men, if a lady is on the steps in front of you, it's only polite to turn so your package isn't nestled on her face.

3. Negotiating travel with a large group. Chances are, if you finally scored tickets to a Sox game you want to bring some friends. That's awesome. Please don't get bent out of shape if you are out of arm's length from one another for the length of four stops. I promise you, your friend Gina will be just fine over there. No, those guys aren't looking at her, they're trying to find a couple inches of space. Yes, she will have plenty of time to get off the train with you at Kenmore. She will be clued in to the fact that it's your stop when she notices every person the train getting off at once. It is NOT necessary to crowd around the door, refusing to move while people get on and off. Also, this is not a high school dance or (despite the house music blaring from that dude's headphones) the club; no need to stand in a circle. That's valuable space in the middle of you, ladies. Give it up! Related: If you are separated for the duration of the train ride, please refrain from shouting across the train at one another. It is not whimsical, cute, or sweet. There will be plenty of time for shouting at the game.

4. Puking in transit. Okay, we can't talk about Red Sox games without talking about drunks. Pre-game train rides are pretty sucky, what with the pain of standing on the platform, four bags of groceries hanging from your arms as train after packed train goes by, but post-game rides are the worst. There's the guy sitting by the door, eyes at half mast, his friends laughing and saying, "Oh man, he's so going to puke!" They're joking, but it happens. And it's disgusting. Adults who drink need to 1. know their limits, and 2. know that if they ignore their limits they will regret it. One of the worst places to be while hammered is the train, especially the green line. It sways, it stops hard, it's slow. Do yourself a favor: when you know you've had too much and you've got that swirly tummy feeling, take a walk. Eat something. Hail a cab. You do not want to hurl on the train, and your fellow passengers wish you wouldn't either. Worst case scenario: you realize once you're on the train that you're going to toss your cookies. Get off at the next stop, use one of the handy trash barrels (sorry, cleaning crew) on the platform, and board the next train. No one wants to deal with your biohazard.

5. People live here. Again with the common sense, but the green line does not exist solely to get people between North Station and Kenmore Square. Look out the windows. See all of those people wearing business casual and flip-flops, carrying huge totes and backpacks, weary and worn out? They've just been at work all day. Remember how you feel after a day at work? Now imagine leaving work and having an already long commute become longer. You'd really be doing someone a solid by letting them get on instead of trying to muscle past them. I'm not saying they have more of a right to ride the train than you do (everyone pays to ride, after all), but just show a little common courtesy. And speaking of courtesy, when a little old lady or old man, or disabled person gets on the train, you get up and offer them your seat. I don't know how they do things out in East Bumfuck, New Hampshire, but here a person with white hair and/or a cane gets a seat. And don't you dare wait for one of the people in business casual to do it. Related: No one is fooled by your sudden interest in the ad next to your seat. We all see you avoiding eye contact so you don't have to give up your seat to the blind guy. Congratulations on your Asshole of the Year award.

Following these simple steps will make you blend right into the Boston crowd, despite your Red Sox jersey and hat. Maybe even because of. Little known fact: every new resident of Boston is issued a hat and jersey upon arrival. Not free tickets though, those bastards. And I don't want to sound superstitious, but I'm pretty sure that if you follow these steps to the letter, the Red Sox will win. Go Sox!

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