JFK-Park/Arlington-JFK/JFK-Ruggles RT/coincidence vs destiny/squirrels

07:28 - arrived at JFK
07:30 - departed JFK
07:40 - arrived Park

Total commute: 12 minutes
MBTA estimated total trip time: 9 minutes
discrepancy: +3 minutes
Total time in transit: 10 minutes
Total wait: 2 minutes

13:44 - arrived/departed Arlington
13:47 - arrived at Park
13:49 - departed Park
13:58 - arrived at JFK

Total commute: 14 minutes
MBTA estimated total trip time: 19 minutes
discrepancy: -5 minutes
Total time in transit: 12 minutes
Total wait: 2 minutes

17:21 - arrived at JFK
17:27 - departed JFK
17:38 - arrived at Downtown Xing
17:46 - departed Downtown Xing
17:55 - arrived at Ruggles

Total commute: 34 minutes
MBTA estimated total trip time: 24 minutes
discrepancy: +10 minutes
Total time in transit: 20 minutes
Total wait: 14 minutes

18:52 - arrived at Ruggles
18:53 - departed Ruggles
19:00 - arrived at Downtown Xing
19:07 - departed Downtown Xing
19:16 - arrived at JFK

Total commute: 24 minutes
MBTA estimated total trip time: 27 minutes
discrepancy: -3 minutes
Total time in transit: 16 minutes
Total wait: 8 minutes

Hmm. Today, for the first time since I've been keeping records of my travels on the T, I'm confronted with a paradox. I mean, what happens when the T actually overestimates total travel time? I can't very well rant and rave about that, now can I? The truth is, there were some freakish aspects of today's journeys. Arriving at Arlington just as a train was pulling in, for one. I also arrived at Downtown Crossing on my way to Ruggles just as an Orange Line train was coming in, and could conceivably have squeezed onto one of the first two cars, but the idea of it was distasteful--it was half-past five and people were in that panic mode, and fight-or-flight pheramones are especially stinky. The first two cars were packed, and by the time I got to the third (not by running, mind you--as I've mentioned before, I don't chase after buses and trains), it was too late. My appointment was for six, so I had plenty of time. On my way back, at Ruggles, the inbound train came a minute after I arrived to the platform, which is also a freak incident. I can't tell you how many hours of my life I have wasted in Ruggles station. True to form, these things come in threes.

There was another freak occurance that sometimes happens on public transit. On my ride to Ruggles I sat across from a young chap with his nose buried in a book (John Moore's Heroics for Beginners, I later spied). He didn't look up from it once that I noticed. I studied him casually, though not with any sort of heightened interest. Not really my type. Skinny kid, hair dyed dirty blond but black at the roots, in baggy jeans with pockets and zippers in odd places, and an oversized sweatshirt. Anyway, on my way back from Ruggles I get on the train, take a seat, look up, and there he is again, just like before. I was slightly more interested this time, just contemplating the odds. He looked up this time, too (twice in fact) and our eyes met with casual disinterest. There was something very hobbitty about him. His eyes were a little wideset, almond-shaped, and at curious angles in respect to each other. It gave him a slightly feral sort of look, but in a pleasing way, I thought. I also noted his bushy mutton chops for the first time--which added to his hobbitty look and seemed a little incongruous, given that he appeared to be about ten years old, otherwise.

That gave me something to contemplate on the way home, since I couldn't very well rage against the T today. I got to thinking, like I said, about the odds of us being on the same train, in the same car, sitting right across from one another like that. It was a lovely coincidence, but essentially meaningless, I think. Not all coincidences are meaningful. Or are they? It's kind of the I ♥ Huckabees thing. I don't remember what they ended up deciding in the movie, but it seemed like it was one or the other--all or nothing.

The funny thing about that movie: I went to see it when it came out, at Loews on the Common there. I went during the day one day, by myself, and before the movie started I went to the john, and in the john I met my friend Robert, who had also come to see it, by himself. So we went and saw it together, and then had a drink afterwards and talked about how funny it was we'd run into each other like that to see a movie like that, that was all about that sort of thing. That seemed somehow significant to me. But this thing with the hobit didn't really. But just because it didn't feel significant, doesn't mean it's not, somehow, I don't suppose. But usually things that are somehow significant feel significant somehow, don't they?

I got off at Park again today and walked to work through the Common. Boy, the squirrels are out in force, aren't they? There seemed to be about 5-10 per square meter in the Common. No joke. They were three and four thick in spots. They were nearly as numerous as beggars on Boylston. I didn't see many in the Garden, but when I crossed over to Commonwealth Ave., there was not a single squirrel in sight. It must have to do with the types of trees they've got growing along there.


At 11/09/2005 10:27 AM, Blogger rage-o-tron said...

this is a letter i wrote to a woman in charge of the red line.....she actually replied!...i was surprised:

Dear Ms. Shirkus,

If this is even you reading this e-mail. I have concerns over the Redilne service over the past 5-6 months. I live around the corner from the JFK/Umass T Stop in Dorchester. Ever since late Sept-Oct. I have noticed a steady and significant decline in
the MBTA's Redline service. From constant delays to broken down trains, to "switching problems" and "signal problems." It also seems that anytime there's a smattering of snow nothing seems to work.

My usual 15-20 minute commute has stretched to 35-45 minutes.

There is also a HUGE lack of communication to the passengers. Take for instance this morning (Tues. Fed. 22 2005) at around 9:25am I was waiting on the top platform to see what side to go catch my train. The Ashmont side lit up and I went down to the platform to wait. While I was down there, the Braintree side had gone off as well. The Ashmont side train pulls into the station and promptly leaves. Out of Service. Now the
Braintree side inbound train has already picked up it's cargo of
commuters and has closed. I have no time to get over there. There
was no announcement that the side I was on was going to be out of
service. This is something that should be remedied.

Things like this happen no less than 3 times a week during my morning
commute. Leaving early doesn't always help either. Just last week I was 35 minutes late for work due "traffic up ahead" and my train just
sat at the station. Sometimes the train will stop, and there's no
announcements for 10 minutes, then the driver come on and says, "We're
experiencing delays." Well after 10 minutes it becomes kind of
obvious, but I think we should have knowledge of that after two

T fares increase, yet the service continually decreases. I think the
MBTA should be fair to their customers. If the service is to continue to decline and not improve then i think it's the responsibility for you and other higher ups to get together and lower the fare to ride
the T.
Why should we pay extra for horrible service? I can understand there will be problems here and there...but not
nearly as much as it happens.

I work for the Commonwealth of Mass. too, and I know if my work was
lacking as much as the MBTA seems to I would be written up several
times a week. I just ask that someone look into the problems. It's not fair for passengers to be left in the dark about what is going on.

thanks for your time.


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