Archive for February, 2008

The Mad Dash

I had just returned to my South Boston apartment from work when the phone rang. It was The Megger, calling from her apartment.

“I need you to come over right now,” she said in an urgent and somewhat frightened voice.

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Just come over.”

When I arrived there, I noticed The Megger standing outside the triple-decker that served as her apartment building.

“Thanks for coming,” she said, “I was just a little nervous. When I got home from work and went up the stairs, the door to my apartment was wide open. I wasn’t sure about even going in, but I did. The television was on, all the lights in the apartment were on, and the gas stove was on full blast. Luckily, there was no pan on the stove.”

“That happened at my fraternity house once,” I said, “one of the guys turned on some ramen noodles and then passed out cold. The smoke alarm woke him up, and the pan was melted onto the burner. You should have seen the look…”

“That’s great,” she interrupted, “but would you come upstairs and help me look around?”

We went up to the apartment and noticed that the door didn’t look to have been forced. Nothing appeared to have been stolen, and no one was hiding in the spare room or under any of the beds or in any of the closets.

We then discussed what might have happened. One of The Megger’s roommates had recently broken up with her boyfriend, and we considered that she could have been snatched when she opened the door for someone. Maybe there was an emergency of some kind? Should we call the police?

We didn’t call the police, since nothing was missing, and thanks to some hearsay television cop show information that people have to be missing for at least 24 hours before they can be reported missing. Instead, we just waited. Later that evening, The Megger’s roommate returned home and went about her business as if nothing had happened; so we had to ask. Her explanation:

“Oh, that. Well, the weather was bad and I didn’t feel like walking to the bus station so I called a cab. I was walking down the hallway when the cab started beeping its horn, so I just ran out of the apartment.”

Without closing the door?

“Yeah, I guess I was in a hurry and forgot to close it.”

What about the stove?

Well, I had planned to make oatmeal, but I forgot about it. When the cab came I just rushed out because I didn’t want to miss it.”

When discussing it later, The Megger and I were surprised at how matter-of-fact the explanation was – there was no apology, no acknowledgment that the whole situation might have been anything but an ordinary Monday. The Megger then said that, in a way, this made sense, as she would often wake up to find candles with wax dripping onto the carpet that the roommate had left burning overnight. She felt lucky that the apartment had not yet burned to the ground.

We both then agreed that it was probably for the best that the roommate had not been in the bathroom when the cab arrived.

Back in the Day Tim 29 Feb 2008 No Comments

Commuter’s Delight

I present the following running journal as an example of the joys of commuting into the City of Cambridge on a daily basis: 

6:50am:  After cleaning the snow off of my car, I set out for my daily commute.  The guys on the radio are crowing about Roger Clemens, which is nice.  I always like to start my day listening to people revel in the misfortune of others. 

7:15am:  I am now waiting in traffic at the Concord Rotary.  From here on out, the commute gets fairly long.  I look in the rearview mirror and notice that the woman behind me is…yep, she’s knuckle deep and digging for something that must be stuck to the front of her brain.  I resolve not to check my rearview for a while. 

7:30am:  I am through the Concord Rotary and sitting in more traffic. 

7:40am:  Yep.  Still here.  Everyone talks about the rotary, but it’s actually the roads after the rotary that are the worst. 

8:15am:  I get to Alewife T-Station and luck out by snagging a parking spot on the 3rd floor of the garage.  This is important for the commute home, as there is an exit on this floor.  If I had to park on 4, it would probably take at least 30 minutes at the end of the day to get out of the garage and into the traffic on Rte 2. 

I walk to the stairwell because the escalator is being overhauled.  This escalator is broken at least 3 times a month and now it seems that they are trying to fix it permanently.  With any luck it will now only be broken 2 times a month.  On the stairwell is the usual white bucket overflowing with a mysterious brown liquid.  The liquid is dripping from the ceiling, landing on the bucket and then overflowing down two floors worth of steps.  

I could understand if there was an unexpected leak, but this bucket and the brown goop is there every day, rain or shine.  I’m sure there isn’t anything bad in the goop; after all, this must be all very carefully supervised. 

At the bottom of the stairs there is a gentleman who offers me a free newspaper.  I say, “No, thank you,” because, as my friend Chris always says: It only takes a second to be polite. 

8:17am:  I hop onto a train that is about to leave and stand at the end of the car, leaning against a sign on the door that says, “DO NOT LEAN ON DOOR.” 

The train is somewhat full, which means that it has been here for a while and that there will be great crowds of people waiting to pack the train at every stop.  The good people of the MBTA seem to enjoy delaying trains during rush hours to be sure that no one has a comfortable ride.  It’s probably not their fault, they probably have breaks scheduled. 

8:23am:  Davis Square.  People crowd into the train so that I am mashed into the “No Leaning” sign. 

8:27am:  Porter Square.  More mashing and crowding.  Reading a book is now a physical impossibility. 

8:33am:  We are just pulling into Harvard Square when the train lurches to a stop.  We sit quietly for a minute and then the train lurches forward again and stops.  A voice comes over the intercom: 

“This train is a disabled train.  All passengers must get out at Harvard Square station.  This train is disabled.  No passengers.  We are going to try to move it into the station now.  Please stand by.” 

I guess I shouldn’t have leaned on that door. 

8:44am:  The train lurches into the station and we all get out, pushing our way into the sizeable crowd of unhappy people who were hoping to get onto our train.  While the disabled train trundles down the tracks, I try to send a text message to work to tell them that I’ll be late, but there is no cell service.  Where do I think I am?  Tokyo? 

8:50am:  A train comes!  But it’s so full that only 5 people can get into the door near me. 

9:00am:  A train comes!  But it’s so full that only 10 people can get into the door near me.  I move a little in an attempt to line up more directly with the door of the next train. 

9:05am:  A train comes!  And I get on!  Huzzah!  By the way, I think that the person next to me uses Irish Spring soap.. 

9:10am:  The train stops at Central Square, but the doors to our car don’t open.  There is sometimes a delay in the doors opening, so no one thinks anything of it until we hear “The doors are closing, stand clear of the doors” on the intercom.  Before anyone can do anything, we are moving again.  A couple of people crack “Looks like we’re all going to Braintree” jokes. 

I turn to the people at the end of the car and shout, “If the doors don’t open at the next stop, hit the intercom.”  After all, the next stop is my stop.  I don’t know anyone in Braintree. 

9:14am:  We stop at Kendall Square, and the doors don’t open again.  The people at the end of the car hit the intercom. 

Intercom (annoyed):  What? 

Us (shouting):  The doors won’t open! 

Intercom (sounding doubtful, after all, these trains never break):  Oh yeah?  What car are you on? 

I see the number of the car on the door and shout it above the confused masses.  A minute later, we see a T employee come walking toward the car from the back of the train.  He looks at the doors and runs in the opposite direction. 

Finally, the doors pop open and I jostle my way through the crowd to the platform.  I climb the stairs and smell the sweet smell of freedom, mixed with a touch of taxi exhaust.  The MBTA:  clean, convenient, and customer-friendly.

The Day to Day Grind Tim 22 Feb 2008 1 Comment

Ah, too Young. Much too Young.

Ok, so my fraternity wasn’t an “engineering” fraternity.  That line just reminded me that there were a bunch of things people told their parents about the frat (note:  I’m not saying that Mike was one of those people).

The Day to Day Grind Tim 11 Feb 2008 1 Comment

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