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July 16th, 2006

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09:29 pm
I've been saying for a while that we have a new contender for Most Egregious Lie Ever, ranking right up there with "The check is in the mail" (or modern-day analogue "The PayPal was sent") and the one about not in your mouth. The new lie is courtesy the MBTA, and it goes "There's another train right behind us!" It's mostly used by a subway conductor to shoo away the masses of people who are cramming themselves into the first train to come by in 20 minutes. Those who choose to believe the conductor dutifully step away from the train, and often find themselves waiting another 20 minutes for that train "right behind." Oh, we've all been there. We've all fallen for it, and most of us grit our teeth with steely resolve and vow to be more like Roger Daltrey. We won't get fooled again. Friday night, however, one of the T drivers proved himself to be speaking the truth.

Friday evening found me standing at Downtown Crossing for over 20 minutes, on a crowded platform full of a crowded crowd, waiting for one single solitary train to Alewife. It was hot and muggy (those poor fans don't work so well when the entire place is packed) and we were all getting very very grumbly. Four, five, six Braintree and Ashmont trains ran by on the other side of the platform. We were getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.

Then, a miracle occurred, and we finally had a train pull into the station. And it was only four cars long. Now the T usually runs trains of six cars in length on the Red Line, because that is how long the platforms have been since 1982 or 1983 or whatever. However, recently, sometime after 7 PM, the T has started thinking it'd be a great idea to save a few bucks and only run four car trains, because it's obvious that nobody in Boston does anything after 7 PM, and certainly nobody who needs to take the train will be doing anything. It's bad enough that nothing in this goddamn town runs 24 hours; having the subway cut back on service at SEVEN FREAKIN PEE EMM does not help in the least. But that's another rant for another entry for another heart attack.

And it was packed. Each car was filled to the gills with hot sweaty stanky cranky people. And those of us who were waiting near the end of the platform (where the last two cars SHOULD be but AREN'T) knew we weren't gonna make this train. But neither were the people waiting up where the train actually was.

"Please stay back behind the yellow line!" the conductor said over the PA. "We have to go now! There's another train right behind us!"

Nobody believed him. We're all jaded that way. So he pleaded his case again, this time with fervent enthusiasm.

"Please stand back behind the yellow line, we can't take any more passengers! I have to close the doors! There's another train right behind us! An emmmmmpty train! With six cars! And it's right behind us so please stand behind the yellow line!"

Ding-ding went the doors, and off the train went. The platform looked as full as it looked when the train had arrived. It was hard to believe the conductor had just told such a brazen lie, but truly, who wanted to cram themselves into that stinkin morass? Maybe he was doing us a favor. But I still didn't believe his words, so I got out my handy Stopwatchphone to time the next train.

And what do you know -- less than 90 seconds after the first train left the platform, we watched, open-mouthed as our gleaming silver-and-red salvation steamed majestically into the station. I watched the front cars pass by -- nobody inside. Empty. I counted ahead -- six cars in all. Holy crap. The dude wasn't lying. The T wasn't lying! The T actually promised us something and made good on it!

Eagerly awaiting my turn to board this pristine, air-conditioned train and ride in comfort to my destination, I watched as the last car in the train made it to where I was on the platform
and I watched it glide right on by.
The train never stopped.


Oh, sure. There was an empty six-car train "right behind us." It just wasn't going to stop for us. So technically, Herr Conduktor wasn't lying one bit. But oh, man, they got me. They got me good. Just when I thought there'd be hope, eh?

(The likely explanation is that the first train, upon reaching busy Park Street, probably then went Express all the way to Harvard. The empty train behind was to pick up the people displaced at Park and run local. But where's the fun in explaining that?)

Nearly nine minutes later, a third train dared show itself at our stop. We all crowded on and went home.

Here is a picture that sums up my feelings on the whole thing. It is of a little girl in Shirley Temple getup tapdancing while a fellow in a tuxedo plays the piano from an iron lung.

No, it's not the Gong Show. It's Fernwood 2-Night!

(13 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 02:08 am (UTC)
what you need to do, here, is put that centered line in "marquee", you betcha.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 02:29 am (UTC)
I say only this:

The Muni makes the T look like a well oiled smooth running properly managed German train system.

I long for the days the red line would only fuck up my commute like ... thrice a week.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 06:08 pm (UTC)
That's a different standard MBTA lie: The destination signs on Green Line trains. I get on any train going in the right direction, whatever the sign says; if they kick me off and I have to wait for another at Government Center, I'm no worse off than before.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 02:53 am (UTC)
Actually I'm glad that they're saying "There's another train behind us" rather than that freakin buzz-word speak "There's more service behind us". Big pet-peeve of mine.

Whenever I see the huge crowded-crowd of people at South Station I seriously consider turning right around and walking over to Park Street. If the weather is nice the walk can be quite pleasent..and by the time you get down to Park's Red Line a train has probably already gone past and thinned the herd. So you catch a later and hopefully-not-as-crowded train.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 03:56 am (UTC)
Ooh, I hate that phrase too. "More service", by virtue of the word "more", implies that there was service in place to begin with. Oh how we know that's a fallacy.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 03:21 am (UTC)
I was on that platform, on the opposite end (and got on the train, and rode it one stop, as I usually do).

The Red Line has the pox lately. It's making the Orange Line look downright efficient.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
You rode the Red Line from Downtown Crossing to Park Street? And you put up with all that froo-frah and nonsense? Damn.

Something about being a better one than I am, Gunga Din.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 03:54 am (UTC)
Well, I got a spot on the train, and didn't wait for the next one (i.e. I got on the 4-car train, no problem).

Or maybe I'm confusing that night with another night last week. All my Red Line issues are starting to blur together.

Half the time I just skip the entire ordeal and walk to Downtown Crossing.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 01:35 pm (UTC)
I think I made my feelings on the T very clear during the single weekend I used it.

I've never heard an announcement that a second train will be following here in Prague, but I have enough problems understanding transit announcements in English. Either way, a population who grew up under Communism wouldn't fall for that one.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
I think your explanation is incorrect. They couldn't have gone express to Harvard, because many of those people on the train would have needed to get off before Harvard, and skipping those stops wouldn't have helped anything.

The T sucks. I'm glad I don't take it often.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC)
Which is why the empty train came behind the first one -- to pick up all the Charles, Kendall and Central-going people who were told to get off the first train once it hit Park Street and changed to an express.

It's the only rational explanation I can come up with for why an empty train went by us at Downtown Crossing, but then again, searching for rationale with the T can prove to be a frustratingly futile experience.
[User Picture]
Date:July 17th, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
T stands for suck....
[User Picture]
Date:July 18th, 2006 09:53 pm (UTC)

Say, derspatchel, did bedfull_o_books ever tell you the (short) history of the phrase, "T is for suck!", usually said with disgust, and emphasis on the suck?

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