Sometimes it’s surprising how little it can take to brighten my day. I don’t think that riding on the MBTA subway has ever made me happy. Ever. It often makes me feel claustrophobic, hot and sweaty, and sometimes nauseated. And quite often it causes me to feel a general hatred for all Bostonians. I could probably go on and on about everything I hate about the T, and I do tend to do that at times. But today it actually made me smile. It wasn’t about human kindness; I didn’t see any college kids giving up their seats to pregnant women. And it wasn’t about a quick, smooth trip; we actually sat at the Government Center station for a total of eight minutes before moving on to Park Street. It was about someone trying his best to enjoy life, instead of choosing to be completely miserable. I have to admit that if I was a T driver, I probably would not be a happy person. Not only would it be extremely tedious and non-stimulating to go back and forth all day, but the passengers would drive me crazy. They step aboard the T and have no idea how to swipe their T pass (which always baffles me because if you actually have a T pass, shouldn’t you know how to use it?) or they stand on the steps not able to find the correct change while the line of people behind them grows and grows. Then there’s always that super-annoying older person who chooses to stand directly next to the T driver for the entire commute, asking them questions and trying to make conversation. Note to these people: the T driver does not want to talk to you so please leave him/her alone and look at the multiple maps posted on the T walls to figure out how to get to your destination.
However, as I took the T this afternoon from North Station to Boylston, just a few stops, I was smiling the whole way. When we pulled into Government Center the driver yelled over the intercom “Government Centaaaaaaaaaaaaa” in a sing-songy voice. Then he started saying, “This train has six doors for your boarding convenience. Please feel free to use all six. There’s plenty of room on this train, so come on on!” In case you’re unfamiliar with the MBTA, upon pulling into a T station, drivers usually say a) nothing, b) “Move all the way into the train. get out of the doorway. MOVE INTO THE TRAIN” or c) they hit the button and an automated voice says, “Now entering Government Center, doors will open on the left.” But this man actually had personality! A few of us were glancing around smirking at each other. When we got to Park Street, he continued, “Please don’t forget any of your belongings, bags, packages, children, christmas presents, whatever you have. Oh, and thank you for not smoking on the T.” I pretty much burst out laughing at this. Not only was this unheard of from a T driver, but I actually did once see a woman forget her child on the T, and I wondered if this announcement would have helped her to remember.
This probably isn’t a matter of significance to many people, but when I ride the T multiple times a day and am faced with angry people and rude drivers, this MBTA employee really gave me a reason to smile. I almost didn’t want to get off at Boylston, and I almost, but not quite, am looking forward to seeing what experiences await me tomorrow on my morning commute. MBTA, maybe you’re not all bad.