Mike the Mad Biologist

While I’m Away on Vacation…

…I thought it appropriate to revisit some advice I gave to visitors to Boston last year (with a few changes):

Bring a street map. You will get lost. You don’t believe me? Then why are you asking me for directions? Your Google search map didn’t help, did it? Seriously, the entire city street system was designed by drunken cows, except for Back Bay, where every street is one way–because otherwise the only existing grid in Boston would be too easy to navigate. Most street directions consist of something like “You go straight until you hit a left that curves. Then you take it until you reach the thing. Take a left, but not the sharp left, until you reach the other thing.” This actually makes sense if you live in Boston, but, remember, you don’t.

Enter the subway (aka “the T”) quickly. As an evolutionary biologist, I realize that being very cautious while entering dark holes in the ground is, overall, an adaptive trait–you never know when there might be a large, scary carnivore down there. But the rest of us have to get to work. I take the T every day, and I assure you there are no large carnivores roaming around. So when someone says “Excuse me” in a tone of voice that really means, “Get of the way, you fucking moron”, it’s because this is a mass transit system, not the fucking Epcot monorail. Think of it this way: back in your suburban paradise, if you were driving home from work and were stuck behind someone doing 27 mph in a 45 mph zone, how happy would you be?

Don’t be an escalump. That person on the left side of the escalator who’s looking really pissed off at you? She’s trying to get by. Move to the right of the escalator. This goes for stairs too, if you’re walking slowly (see the above point).

“The front of the cah looks just like the reah of the cah. Please move to the reah of the cah.” Very sage advice offered by more than one driver. Don’t enter the car (“cah”) and then mill around because you’re confused right by the entrance. You can be just as confused farther into the car. The rest of us need to get on the train.

Don’t ‘keep it real’ on the subway. Mistakenly, you might think that you’re fooling the rest of us into thinking you’re not a tourist by leaning up against the entire vertical pole. Granted, we all should be allowed our fantasies, but here’s the problem with what you’re doing: the rest of us actually need to grab on to the pole, so we don’t go flying once the train starts moving again. We will grab your ass, as flabby and pathetic as it is, so we don’t fall on ours.

Don’t ‘keep it real’ on the subway, part deux. Inexplicably, I once saw a group of foreign high school students in a desperate effort to ‘keep it real’ (or whatever their culture’s equivalent thereof was) by sitting on the floor of the car (“cah”). You don’t have to be a microbiologist to realize that the floor is…sticky. What were they thinking? To boot, these wonder kids were blocking the way to about fifteen seats. The next stop was largely a tourist stop (Prudential), but one native got on the train, and roared at them, “Get off the fucking floah!” (floor). They got off easy.

Mysteriously, the train will eventually resume moving in the forward direction. As sure as the sun rises and sets, several tourists will enter the car, stand with their feet parallel to the direction of the movement of the train, and then go flying backwards into someone, often spilling a dark, staining liquid in the process. Said tourist will then look surprised, as if to say, “Gee, I had no idea that the train would start moving again.” Just out of curiosity, how do think the train got there in the first place, you moron?

Yes, the Cheers bar is by the big “Cheers” sign. This is self-explanatory. And stop over-pronouncing your R’s.

Enjoy your trip!

Related point: In a slightly more serious vein, one of the great things about Boston is that there really isn’t a large tourist district. Overall, this is a good thing, but it does create some interesting situations.

Comments

  1. #1 J-Dog
    April 21, 2008

    True Story: My son Colin was born in Beverly MA, a little town just north of Boston. I had to get a prescription for some childhood illness or other for him, and the label indicated that the said prescription was for “Carlin”.

    Wish I had saved it. I am sure it fell out of my dungarees when I went to pay for a wicked nice cone with jimmies on it.

    Happy Patriot’s Day

  2. #2 PhysioProf
    April 21, 2008

    Great post, dude!

  3. #3 Joshua
    April 21, 2008

    My coworkers swear that there are places in Cambridge where you can turn off of Mass Ave, stay on the same side street going perfectly straight, and end up on the other side of Mass Ave. I have no reason to doubt this is true. I’ve also speculated the Boston’s streets inspired Lovecraft’s descriptions of the non-Euclidean geometry of R’lyeh.

    On a further tourist note, I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve bumped into people on the BU campus, driving outbound on Comm Ave, who pulled over to ask me how to get to Faneuil Hall. Somehow, I’ve resisted telling them to get the fuck out of their car and take the T to Government Center. I’m not sure I’ll be able to resist that next time, though.

    Also, just last week, I overheard some idiot on Comm Ave and Harvard swearing to his friends that Fenway was nearby.

  4. #4 Rugosa
    April 21, 2008

    If tourists took the 16 bus from Forest Hills, they would be treated to the first stop announcement: “Washington Street at Washington Street.” Clearly designed to confuse any invading enemy dumb enough to think they could invade via public transporation.

  5. #5 drdrA
    April 22, 2008

    Oh the memories- we lived in Boston for 10 years…. and I am so happy to return for ASM this year. Perhaps I will still be considered a local?

    You forgot to mention that while enjoying a trip to Boston – tourists should not, under any circumstances, RENT A CAR. They just muck it up for the rest of us, never knowing that everything is one-way!

  6. #6 seks shop
    February 13, 2010

    If tourists took the 16 bus from Forest Hills, they would be treated to the first stop announcement: “Washington Street at Washington Street.” Clearly designed to confuse any invading enemy dumb enough to think they could invade via public transporation