Monday, April 16, 2007

Figure It Out

I love the marathon. Every year, I go out and cheer on the runners as they chase their own goals. I like the silly shirts and bunny ears.

I do not, however, enjoy the marathoners in my city.

This weekend featured me taking the T a lot. On Saturday, there was some welcoming party or something for the marathoners, because around 6pm on Saturday, the T was mobbed with people with little body fat and a lot of energy. Which, hey, is great for them, but you can always tell a serious runner. They have a crazy, frenetic gaze. It seems like they're mentally gauging whether they could run faster than you. Some of them seem to silently judge those who would rather drive 26.2 miles. And, on Saturday, they had bags of runner's swag.

If one more person in a BAA hat rode the T like a baby just out of the womb, I was going to lose it. It was the unholy union of marathon tourists and baseball tourists on the Green Line made for a molasses-slow commute to the North End. One woman stood in the way of the door while leaning on the pole. The entire pole. Aren't these people elite athletes? Shouldn't they be able to stand on their own power for half an hour? When the woman seperated herself from the pole for a moment, another woman grabbed the bar. The running woman went back to leaning, and smooshed the woman's hand.

"Oh, I didn't mean to squish your hand!" Runner said.

"Mmm-hm," the woman said, not moving. Finally, Runner got the hint and just held on with one hand.

Of course, it wasn't much better in the North End. A friend of mine lives there, and was not amused with the Globe's coy story about how the North End is trying to lure tourists "back" after the Big Dig had the North End isolated for ten years. Hey, Boston Globe-- the tourists sure as hell know where the North End is. They gawk, stop short to look at a menu, walk four abreast along Hanover Street's narrow sidewalks, stand dumbfounded at the chaos of Mike's Pastry. I appreciate the money tourists bring to Boston's economy and the businesses they keep open, but can we please give them a refresher course on the fragile social contract that keeps our fine city moving? Next year, I'll totally pay to have a run of pamphlets made up that describes the pillars of T-riding (step away from the doors, don't lean against people's means of support, give seats to old and young people, if it's crowded start inching closer to the doors a couple stops ahead of your destination, etc). I'm also going to start contributing my signature to the list of people who think Hanover Street should be a pedestrian-only road during the summer so the tourists have room to gawk and the rest of us can get stuff done.

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