Nov 27, 2013


It's the end of the month and I need to get next months T commuter pass on this rare occasion that I'm at the station early. This Friday's workload turned out to be conducive to watching the clock and setting out with a few extra minutes to spare. usually i default to a 5 minute sprint over the quarter mile from my office building to station and hop onto the train, winded and red, just before the conductor slams the door.

A scruffy old man leaning on a crutch is complaining at one of the 5 ticket windows. He has misplaced his ATM card and wants to know why they won't accommodate him since they see him so often. He is as belligerent as the employee behind the plexiglas is calm. His cane clatters to the floor as he enlists both hands to par down his pockets in search of something. Change perhaps. The middle aged man in executive attire just behind him in line retrieves it for him. The cane, not change.

I don't know how it ends as my line by the ticket vending machine has moved and I'm up now. I mistakenly jab the 'Debit' button after swiping my Benefits card, am prompted for a non-existent password and have to start over. It's ok, though: I have time. The young girls who were (are) behind me in line are ahead now, poring over the wall map of the commuter rail system, trying to figure out which zone they need their ticket purchase to cover.

I tuck away my pass and card and walk a twice-as-long meandering route to the waiting area, trying to avoid the streams of traffic between 2 opposing entrances to North Station.

There's an elderly gentleman on my right on the bench.
He was buried in a book but reluctantly surfaces when an aged lady taps his sleeve and asks smilingly "When were you in the navy?"
The gentleman suspiciously, reluctantly reels off the years he was in service. She silently extends her hand and unfurls her fist to reveal a Navy Veterans pin and says "For your hat. I was a weather forecaster, 19xx to xx."
He accepts and says in a relieved voice "Good for you. Thanks for the pin."
She shakes his hand and amends "Good for us".
After a few beats, when it's apparent the conversation has died a natural, if premature death, she graciously retreats to an opposing bench to wait for her train and work more on a crossword. On the pretext of checking the digital announcement board I sneak a quick look to see what gave him away. A navy blue baseball cap with the logo of a destroyer and 'USS something' embroidered on it. Wish I could catch the name of it but twisting in my seat again so soon would give me away for the nosy-parker I am.

Behind me on another bench:
Lady with a heavy Russian sounding accent chatting with her co-worker, Laurie. First it's how her sons don't answer the phone when she calls after school.
"Do you know vy he can't hear, Low-ree? He come home, vash his hands,eat snack then sit in front of Xbox with headphone on!"
Adds a cackling laugh, perhaps to indicate she's essentially unoffended. "I tell them, you guys gonna trive me cray-see one day!".
More laughter.
The mostly one-sided conversation moves onto the supervisor at work - "I voree about the vorkers but the superwisor, just crasee!"
I finally hear Laurie pipe in with an innocuous observation about how they just have to do the best they can. I can't catch the details as they're announcing my train now.

I sit still and watch a lady bury herself up to her nose in the ice-cream cone she just got from the Emack &  Bolio stall. She's wearing a hand knit beret and a yellow smear on her nose.

When a large portion of commuters in my area have finished steaming towards the just-announced platform, I rise and following in their calmer wake.

The conductor's whistling 'Jingle Bells' as the train rumbles slowly out of North Station. Boston street lights puncture an overcast sunset and the Museum of Science spire is wreathed in mist.

Another week has ended.

The following conversation is para-phrased but the key elements are true.
Oyon (when his Bey blade spinning top topples over): Aw, cheese! That didn't even spin 2 minutes!
Me (wondering about offending Christian sensibilities): Did you just say 'Oh Jeez?'
Oyon (laser-focus on his malfunctioning toy): Chees-es! Only 5 seonds this time!
Me (deciding to face it head on): Oyon are you saying 'Jesus'? That's rude to some people, you know.
Oyon (finally looking up): Why is it rude?
Me: Because Jesus is the Christian God. Kind of.
Oyon (frustrated): But we said Grace the other day at the Spoerings, we said "Thank you Cheeses for this food". Cheese isn't rude - its' yummy! 

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