Give T a chance

by Beacon Staff • February 11, 2009

If you're a student in Boston, you probably use the T to get around. You love it or hate it, depending on the day.

We spend hours and hours walking to, waiting for and traveling on the T every year, hours many consider wasted-lost into the ether like idle Facebooking and watching daytime TV. Many dearly miss driving's expedience and privacy, and the sovereignty that comes with it. They freely curse the T for lacking these things.

But on the whole, we should love the T. It's a cheap ride, warm in winter and cool in summer. Sometimes, there's an open seat. You can read, listen to music and look back on-or ahead to-the day's events. You can put your head down and nap. Or look out the back of the train to explore the subway tunnels' depths (if you're claustrophobic, don't). While above ground, you can gaze out the window. (One of the best parts of Cambridge is the perfect skyline view when the Red Line crosses the Longfellow Bridge. It's almost worth the backbreaking rent.)

While on the T, we can, most simply, take in the city and gain reprieve from the busy lives we lead. It's one of Boston's greatest boons, and part of the deal when we come to school in Boston. Yes, we lose some mobility and some time waiting on the platform-but we gain the city. Colleges in the sticks may have parking lots, but where is there to drive?

Really, the T isn't a portal to Boston; it's part of it. There are often surprises in tow.

About a month ago, I was on the Red Line. At Charles/MGH, three black men, probably in their 20s, boarded the train clapping and cheering. One of them carried a stereo. Another said, "Show time, it's show time," over and over, walking up the middle of the car, asking riders to make room. The third announced they would be putting on a show, and they would appreciate any contributions at the end of their routine. His buddy turned on the stereo.

The men did a break-dancing routine, with flips and acrobatic flair, while the train sped along at some 40 miles per hour to Kendall Station. Bedraggled commuters became elated, cheering the performers on. Everyone was friends. Smiles and laughter were everywhere. It was movie stuff.

As this was happening, a thirty-something man, sitting near the middle of the car, was frowning fiercely, trying to read. I peered over to see what the book was, to find out what could be more exciting than the spontaneous street-or, subway car-performance before him. I couldn't make out the the title. But I could make out that he was reading "Appendix A."

Charts. He was reading charts (can one read charts?) instead of enjoying the spectacle before him. What a waste.

Of course, I don't know the guy. He could have been on his way to take an exam, or to teach a class, or to the book signing of an illustrious appendix author. But then again, he could just be a curmudgeon who is determined to shield himself from the T's charms. That would be a waste.

Surprises like these happen all the time, if you give the T a chance. So tomorrow evening, after you call your mother, thank the T for its good work, and for Boston. One couldn't exist without the other.

iChris Girard is a junior political communication major and opinion editor of /iThe Beacon.