September 27th, 2006

Uncle Duke

we're all in it together

The Boston Glob ran a slightly-more-indepth article on the T's recent plan to reward passenger courtesy with $2 Dunkie's gift cards. On the outset, it's a rather feel-good idea, a system to brighten the day of someone who, hopefully, has just brightened someone else's day by making their T ride just a little less aggravating. And that feat, especially as most folks' T rides are aggravating primarily due to the T itself, is nothing short of amazing.

I'll try not to argue that this could be a smoke job on the part of the MBTA to try and take folks' minds off its shoddy service, poor maintenance, surly employees and general overall unreliability. Sure, the T does love to put the onus of responsbility on the riding public for things it should be doing itself -- the "If You See Something, Say Something" campaign, for instance, which doubtless saved huge amounts of money on actual security measures -- so it wouldn't be out of character for the transit authority to charge its own passengers with the task of making their fellow commuters happy. But frankly, quite a few T riders do need a little crash course on common courtesy, and this goes beyond giving up your seat to someone who needs it more than you or waiting for people to get off the train before you try to get on (which, as noted in the above Glob article, was one of the actions that garnered a reward yesterday. Come on, that's not common courtesy, that's common sense. And it's in accordance with the laws of physics and displacement. Shee!)

There's the ever-popular Loud iPod People. And the People Who Stand In The Doorway When Others Are Trying To Leave. Or the Cellphone Chatterers at Charles. Or the people who stand in a crowded train wearing their backpacks. Nearly lost an eye to someone the other day that way, myself. Maybe it's hard for the BU kids to realize that when they stand, their courier bag's buckles and ironic Hot Topic pins are at someone else's eye level, and maybe it's hard for them to realize that someone exclaiming "Jesus Christ my eye fuck!" isn't praying, but remarking upon the precarious predicament that they have been put in and the blinding bullet they just barely dodged. But I digress.

(What I really want to do with these backpack folks is carry around a Barrel O' Monkeys toy, and if they insist on dangling their backpack in front of me, I am going to see how many monkeys I can dangle from their backpack without them noticing. I do know from experience that those monkey chains are tenuous at best, though, so I'm pretty sure this plan will end with a hasty departure and plastic monkeys strewn all over the T. And that's not really a lot of common courtesy, is it?)

So do Ye Citizens of Boston require bribes to be nice? Do we need rewards for doing what we should be doing on a daily basis anyway? Maybe so. $2 at Dunkie's means hey, coffee and a donut and you can't beat that. But should we be doing nice things for other people even when there's no free food on the line? Totally. Duh. And it's not even so much being Gallant all the time and showing a nigh-unsincere modicum of politeness and saying "GOLLY SIR HELLO MA'AM HOPE YOU'RE ENJOYING YOUR FINE RIDE HERE LET ME CARRY YOU ON MY BACK" all day long, as it is being cognizant that our commutes all stink on ice, and we're all pissed off with this poor excuse for public transportation. If you can make someone's ride less off-pissing, go 'head and do it, ya mook. Not because the T is leaving it up to us or because you might get a donut out of the deal, but because, in the words of Harry Buttle Tuttle, "We're all in it together."