Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Commuting and Do a Good Deed Daily

I've been meaning to write about things I see on my commute.

My first train ride home found me sitting across the aisle from a guy who was clearly impaired, drugs most likely as his eyes were closed and when they were open they were past bloodshot. He was on the phone with a friend talking about his job as a credit card collections agent.

He went on and on and on about how people who don't pay their bills are douchebags, they deserve abuse, they deserve to be berated, and when he gives a "settlement" they don't realize he gets 30% of whatever it is they agree to pay. Laughing. So much laughing.

So he is awesome. The most awesome. When they were done with their call, he then sat there and picked his nose, all the way up to his second knuckle deep up into his nostril, like he was trying to scratch his brain.

Because I wear an invisible sign that says "Hey, Talk To Me!" he then tried to talk to me. But because I was so infuriated about the trash he had to say on the phone to his friends, I didn't wish to engage.

I pretended to take phone calls instead.

I wanted to tell him he was a big bag of dicks and he should eat shit and die for his attitude about people who "don't pay their bills" because he has no idea what people are going through. Fuck you, ya douchebag.

Pretending to take phone calls and looking out the window was a better bet. I sometimes can't hold my anger, and I would have let shit fly from my mouth better left unsaid.

Another day, I flirted with a Dutch baby in a stroller who didn't want to be on the Orange Line, and helped his parents figure out how to get to the airport safely. They almost didn't get off at State Street, until I asked them if they were Airport Bound, and if they were planning the blue line or the silver line from South Station. They looked at me and both said "uhhhhh, blue line to airport?" so i put my foot in the door and didn't let it close, and helped them off the train, told them how to get to the blue line in the maze and tunnels, as my train rolled away and I then had to wait 16 minutes for the next one.

More baby adventures on the orange line, as a young mother and her sweet little girl were very entertaining. Baby kept handing me her shoes. I kept giving them to her mom. She was a handful and by the time we made it to Downtown Crossing she'd pretty much had it. It is hard to be the baby. Momma strapped her into the stroller and she lost her mind, we walked down the platform and then got to the staircase to head to the Red line, and I turned around and took the foot rest of the stroller and helped carry baby down the stairs. I didn't even ask if mom needed help. She just smiled and accepted it. The baby stopped crying and looked at me, fascinated that I was holding her stroller and helping her schlep down the stairs.

We sat together on the red line, for the one stop I was on the train for to South Station, and when I got up I said "bye baby, and bye momma." And both of them smiled.

I wanted to ask their names but baby and momma will do.

Yesterday I was on the escalator coming upstairs at South Station and three women in front of me stopped at the top of the escalator. I crashed into them, and said "woah ladies, you can't ever just stop at the top of the escalator!" and I started to walk towards the orange line. One woman said "Sorry, I'm blind!" and I realized two of them had walking sticks and one was obviously visually handicapped but could see well enough to get around. I turned around as they were trying to figure out where to go, and I said "okay ladies, how can I help you? Where are you headed?"

The destination was Downtown Crossing so I told them to follow me. The women each had a suitcase, their walking sticks, and I guided them to the stairs. We were walking down and holding up traffic so I offered to help take a suitcase down to the bottom of the stairs so they could walk unecumbered. I started to drag the suitcase, which weighed about 200 pounds, down the stairs. "Jeesh lady! What's in here? A dead body!?" I asked. "Yeah, my ex husband! He pissed me off!" she responded. 

A guy behind me offered to grab the bottom of the bag and I nodded yes, so he and I carried the thing down the stairs. "I'm not stealing your bag, me and the ex will wait for you down the foot of the stairs. You take your time." The guy smiled and we hustled down the steps so people could get around the blind women, and not be held up by us.

I set the bag down and the guy and I smiled at each other, I thanked him and he hopped on the train waiting there. The ladies eventually all made it down the steps, and I gathered them together. I ushered them to the end of the end of the platform and told the MBTA lady to put them on a less crowded train bound for Downtown Crossing, because the one that was just arriving was sardine packed. I waited for the next one, realizing that I was most likely going to miss my train home. I told them they'd be going one stop, and asked them if they were in a hurry. I described the tightness of the crowd, and told them they would probably be better suited to wait a couple trains, while I was going to grab the very next.

They repeatedly thanked me, and the MBTA lady stood there and just watched me give them guidance and assurance. A train arrived, super crowded but I had to take it. I bid them farewell and MBTA lady looked at me and told me that was the sweetest thing she'd seen in forever. I smiled and said "make sure they're okay for me, cause I gotta jet."

My train was one minute late in leaving. I made it. Relieved and exhausted, standing for the first five stops.

Today I helped a German find the Alamo car rental to return his car. I sat next to a beautiful little Chinese boy on the Orange line who had a ledger book that he wrote words and drew pictures in, and they all looked so much like some of the wonderful things Geoff used to draw. And it made me cry a little bit as he wrote Boston Boston Boston on all the pages with square bodies and big round heads.

One of them was probably me.

I saw a fight on the Orange Line as people were trying to get off the train, but people were pushing to get into the train. Basic physics dictates that you have to let people OUT before you can get in. Assholes. So there was yelling and screaming and a bunch of fat old women who just didn't give a fuck just kept pushing their way into the train as some well dressed businessman yelled at them "Ladies, you CAN'T DO THAT!" Yeah yeah yeah no speak english whatever.

Tonight, I left work at 6pm to begin the  mile and 3/4 walk to North Station from my office. It is dark at  6pm now, which is very sad. I made it to the station in plenty of time and overheard  a conversation between a woman and the ticket agent for MBTA. She was without her phone, it was dead, and her Amtrak ticket was on the phone... dead. She missed her train unfortunately, and needed to get in touch with someone at Amtrak to fix her reservation and get on the next train.

The MBTA guy was apologetic, but couldn't help her, because he doesn't work for Amtrak. Their office was closed (stupid move on their part). She asked if he had a cell phone she could use to call them, because, of course, there is no customer service phone on the outside of their office and there is no payphone in all of North Station. He didn't have a phone for her to use, so ...

"I'll let you use my phone," I told her.

She was incredibly relieved, and the MBTA guy said "okay, this nice lady will help you." I had all of ten minutes before my train was going to leave. But hell, I figured ... If I miss it, I'll go have dinner at the Beer Works and watch the ball game.

She called Amtrak and they needed the credit card number she used to make the reservation. Well, that was at home in Maine. They gave her a reference number, and told her to call back with the number. She was on the verge of tears, and called home to her husband who had the credit card in his possession, and he made the call to Amtrak, called my phone back, and said "She's all set" to me.

Two minutes until my train leaves, and she's all relieved and happy. Her train doesn't leave until 11:30pm, so she asks me if she can take me to dinner for my kindness, but I politely decline, because that there train needs me to be on it. We hug, she tries to pay me and I told her to do something with the money for someone who really needs it. She asks what my favorite charity is and I tell her Kiva or Heifer Project. And she smiles.

I make my train.

My contract has been extended through next week.

I think I could make a daily ministry of good works if I keep this up, but I also wonder if people don't just get bitter and jaded and filled with apathy about stuff like this. When I'm at the stations, my eyes and ears are always open to people who may need a hand. And I am surrounded by people who just don't give a shit.

I'm not better than them, for sure. Heck, I sometimes cringe when people gesture towards me for help. It worries me that I may be scammed or hurt or somehow taken advantage of but so far these past several weeks I've been deeply blessed by opportunities to help, and want that to continue.

In Boy Scouts, the boys are taught to do a good turn daily. I think I've done that. And hope to continue doing that.


  1. You are a good ambassador and antidote to the Massholes.

  2. lol thanks amy. i try.

  3. Anonymous9:53 PM

    Wow!!!! Not to many people out there that would have done 1/2 of the stuff you have done!!! This post made me smile! gina * you are awesome