28 November 2006

A Movable Feast

Over the past few months, whenever I've had to drive into Boston, it seemed like a truck would catch fire or rollover on Route 3 and snare traffic for hours. I tried to take the commuter rail from South Weymouth a few times but had to wake up at an obscene hour that was actually closer to my bedtime just to secure a parking spot. But on Sunday, when the Bags sent me home from Jack's child-of-God after party with a boat pass (and some finger sandwiches - yum), I decided to give the commuter boat a whirl. I've taken the boat recreationally for years but never during commuting hours. While it was much more crowded, it was just as smooth. I walked right on and settled in a with my Metro newspaper and a ferry-issue coffee. I immediately felt right at home with the familiar avoidance behaviors of public transportation: Some passengers had their heads buried in laptops and newpapers. Others -- wearing iPods -- displayed the catatonic "I'm not looking at you, I'm looking through you" stare. Since I was bookless and iPod-less on this trip, I pretended to be intensely engrossed in a movie review of "Happy Feet." But then the familiar scene turned bizarre. The boat's horn blasted as we pulled away from the dock and it was like the sounding of the dinner bell. Seemingly out of nowhere, some commuters produced styrofoam containers with full-on lumberjack breakfasts inside of them. Others began stuffing their faces with bagel sandwiches, bowls of cereal, and Zone bars. The guy sitting next to me whipped out a 13"x9" tupperware container and proceeded to eat what appeared to be the remains of someone’s birthday cake. Is this a new commuting trend? I don't ride mass transit as regularly as I used to, but when I did, I never once considered buttering a bagel on the Blue Line or even the 57 Bus. Eating a meal was something you just didn't do on public transportation -- like exfoliating your elbows and heels with a pumice stone. Is this behavior exclusive to the seafaring commuters or is there an intermodal chowdown going on system-wide? I scarfed down a a turkey finger sandwich in my car on the ride to the Shipyard like a civilized human being. But if the rules have changed, I'd like to know. Any insight is appreciated.

12 comments:

jal said...

KJ - I think this is a seafaring phenomenon only. I ride the Blue Line everyday and occasionally the Orange and Green lines too and virtually never see food being eaten. The only exception is popcorn from the vendor at Government Center. I can't believe it but I'm going to miss the T when I have to start driving to Canton everyday next week. If anyone knows of any good HR jobs in Boston please let me know. I don't care what they've done to the new building, I just don't want to work in the woods.

KJ said...

OK. I thought there'd been some major cultural shift that I was unaware of. My theory is that some people think because there is a snack bar on board, it is a license to go hog wild. But it's only a 30 minute ride. Can't you just wait until you get into the office. Still the best way to commute, however.

I'll put the word out for HR jobs, my friend.

EPB said...

KJ I agree with JAL. I take the Silver Line (bus in the South End) to the Red Line and reverse every day. Very rarely will I see food being consumed on either of these lines. One time though I was 'that guy'. I bought some sushi from Stop & Shop for lunch, never ate it, decided to bring it home, had a hunger attack as though I had just smoked up, and decided to whip out the sushi, chop sticks and all. Lets just say that the 7 yr old on the train with his parents going to the Red Sox game had a look of bewilderment on his face....I was wondering if it was because I was eating, because I was eating sushi, or because I was eating sushi on a train with chopsticks...

KJ said...

I think "eating sushi on a train with chopsticks" is the correct answer there. You get a pass, EPB, because you at least had a transfer. There is no need for a sit-down meal during a 30 minute, single mode commute. Is there?

BAGS said...

KJ,
To validate your observation, every morning is treated like a an open buffet at Ponderosa for most boat passengers, (since I take this boat daily.)

On the flip side of that, the trek home turns into a high school-esque style kegger, wherein it's imperative that you slam a couple of brews in the 35 minutes it takes you to get from Rowes Wharf to the Hingham, [before you get in your car to drive home.]

KJ said...

Bags-I'm so glad you've witnessed the "Ponderosa" (I'm calling it that from now on). I've never seen anything like it. Unfortunately, I missed the cocktail hour on the ride home as I caught the 1:30 p.m boat full of school children and the elderly.

wmd said...

"eating sushi on a train with chopsticks..." is a F'ing GREAT name for an album!!

Seriously, someone needs to record and album just to name it that. We need T-Bag to sit down with a tape recorder.

LPD said...

I want to see that album cover.

I love the commuter boat! Cameo and I enjoyed a Sam Adams on the boat when dog sitting for Patch a few years back in Cohasset. My theory is that people on the commuter boat are conditioned to the same behaviors learned on any recreational hi-speed ferry trip. For example: I've never set sail on the Gray Lady to Nantucket without consuming at least two hot dogs and bud lights. Side note: If the T bus had a snack and beverage bar, I guarantee I'd stand up and eat egg sandwiches and slurp coffee while teetering dangerously above the heads of seated fellow passengers...just because I could.

KJ said...

WMD-A great album for sure. Also a good jumping off point for a little haiku. "eating sushi on a train with chopsticks..." finish the syllables.

LPD-That is an EXCELLENT point. I think you've nailed it. I'll admit it did feel a odd, unnatural even, to be on the boat without partaking in booze and hot dogs.

ko said...

Haiku it is...

Eating sushi on
a train with chopsticks is cool.
Hey Sox fan, try some?

Ahh those dorky English teachers...

Cheeky monkeys!!

Katie O.

KJ said...

KO-that's why we love dorky english teachers.

Freestyle...

Sushi on a train
I eat it with my chopsticks
More wasabi please

(More haiku please...from the gallery)

OKJ said...

Eating sushi on
A train is very nasty
I'm going to boot