Brenda Kelley Kim

“These are the times that try men’s souls. In the course of our nation’s history, the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened. Today, a new crisis has arisen. The Metropolitan Transit Authority, better known as the MTA, is attempting to levy a burdensome tax on the population, in the form of a subway fare increase. Citizens, hear me out! This could happen to you.”

–Charlie on the MTA, lyrics by Jacqueline Steiner, Bess Lomas Hawes, spoken intro by Dave Guard, Kingston Trio

I love Marblehead and consider it my home; even if technically I am not a “True ‘Header, it’s my happy place. I’m a Boston girl, too, though. I love going into the city and exploring.

When I worked there, the commute rarely bothered me. It was part of the fun—people watching, time to read a book, and just chill. The T was occasionally chaotic, but it was never that bad. This past weekend, I had to go into the city to research an article I’m writing for one of my freelance gigs. I visited the Boston Fire Museum, down by the Seaport area. I’m a big fan of firefighters, especially when they wear turnout coats in the grocery store and pick out food for some delicious dinner.

The ones I see are almost always cute guys that look very tough, and you just know they could throw you over their shoulder and…OK, well, never mind. Those are probably just the ones I notice. Kidding aside, all first responders are heroes to me, and when you add in the ability to cook? That’s pretty awesome.

We all know the poop show the T has been lately. Talk about fire; an Orange line train literally burst into flames, on a bridge,over the Charles during rush hour. Does it get any more “Boston” than that? People were leaping out windows into that dirty water we love so much.

The Orange Line is closed now; the Green Line has some partial shutdowns happening, and, lest we forget, the Sumner Tunnel is closed for three days of the week. So I drove to Wonderland to hop on the Blue Line, got off at the airport, and changed to the Silver Line buses to get to the Seaport area. Going in, it was seamless. Coming out? Not so much. But it was my fault, and I really did think I might be stuck on the T just like our old pal Charlie was.

The Silver Line is almost like the odd step-child of the MBTA. It runs to and from Logan (and some other places, I think) to South Station, and it’s handy. I didn’t realize that not every Silver line bus stops at the airport Blue Line station. One does, two don’t. Of course, I was riding on one that didn’t. It stopped at Logan, at all the terminals, but not at the Blue Line station. It was mobbed, and I couldn’t tell where we were with everyone smooshed into the space. Once it cleared out, guess where we were? Right back at South Station, where I’d gotten on.

I got up, went to the driver, and said, somewhat sheepishly, “Um, I missed the Blue Line stop?” He was a sweetie; he said, “Ma’am, we didn’t go there.” Oh, good. I hadn’t passed out from a stroke or anything; I’m just regular stupid. He explained that I should have gotten off at a terminal and hopped on a Massport Shuttle bus that would go to the Blue Line. He told me to stay on and the bus did another loop-de-loop past South Station, and back towards Logan.

I got off at the first terminal and was on my way again, but I think I lost my Masshole card in the process. How can I call myself a Boston girl if I can’t manage to catch the right bus for a major destination like Logan? I used to work at Logan, for cripes sake. It was demoralizing, for sure.

When I came home for the summer in college, I spent a lot of time driving my father to and from places when he couldn’t do it anymore. That was pre- Big Dig, though; it’s a different city now. My kids like me well enough, but I don’t think any of them want to be my keeper, shuttling me around to places because I get lost easily. It’s all anchors and sails until you hit the day when you’re the person who can’t find their aft in a bathtub.

I think I should spend more time navigating the city and what is left of its transit system. I’m probably just out of practice. It’ll be fun; I can plan field trips and maybe learn a few new things about my city.

One question I have is about old Charlie on the MTA, though. The train he was stuck on rumbled through Scollay Square every day at “quarter past two,” and Charlie’s wife handed him a sandwich through the window. How come she didn’t give him the extra nickel so he could get off of that train? I guess we’ll never know, but my guess is she didn’t really miss him that much. I need to up my game, I don’t want to be the next Charlie.

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