Everything That Will Definitely Happen to You on the T in Boston

Published On 05/16/2016 Published On 05/16/2016
Stephen Orsillo/Shutterstock

The MBTA, the T, the subway, the seventh circle of hell... our rail transit system has quite a reputation -- some of it earned, some of it not. But love it or abhor it, the T is... an experience. Or, to put it another way: a series of bizarre, disparate experiences that sometimes make you wonder if/why we’re the only city that deals with this shit. Here are some of the things that'll undoubtedly, most definitely, absolutely happen to you while riding the T in Boston. 

1. The T will make you late because of a switching problem.
2. The T will make you late because of a track fire. 
3. The T will make you late because of a train fire. (No, really.)
4. We’re not even going to talk about runaway, driverless trains
5. You will finally, one day, encounter the elusive Spare Change guy -- he of the gravelly “Do you have any spaaaare change?” inquiry -- and he will definitely live up to the hype (but still make you very nervous). 
6. Some guy will get on the train wearing a backpack the width of a human being and promptly smack you with it. 
7. You’ll encounter air conditioning in February.

Flickr/Alan Light

8. You’ll encounter a lack of air conditioning in July. 
9. You’ll have your foot run over by one of the many tourist-pulled wheelie bags that embark at South Station. 
10. You’ll see someone with a non-service dog and wonder if non-service dogs are actually allowed on the T. You’ll later Google it and find out that they totally are (during non-peak hours).
11. You’ll then see someone with a snake and feel pretty confident that’s not allowed. 
12. You’ll attempt a surreptitious photo of the manspreading in front of you because it’s just that epic. Then the manspreader will catch you and give you a death stare. 
13. You’ll mentally coin the phrase “bagspreading” for the dude who puts his messenger on the coveted seat next to him during rush hour. 
14. You’ll eavesdrop on a couple of MIT students attempting to out-mansplain each other.

Flickr/Connie Ma

15. Someone will spill their Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee in front of you and then blame you for it. 
16. You’ll actually fear suffocation on the Green Line during a Sox game day.
17. You’ll get on the train so excited to sit, only to discover you’re on a Big Red train that has four seats.
18. One of those medical trial advertisements will actually give you pause. (Really: $200 for a six-week experimental drug trial? Not bad!) 
19. Your train will stop for a medical emergency, but you’ll never learn what the medical emergency is. Unless someone got hit by the train. Then Universal Hub will be all over that.
20. You’ll watch all the young men around you not give up their seats to a pregnant woman.

Flickr/jinjian liang

21. The first time you take the Silver Line, you’ll be disappointed it’s a bus (even though you knew it was a bus).
22. Your late-night train will fill with the scent of late-night Burger King.
23. You’ll take the stairs at pretty much every Blue Line stop, because it's better to be safe than chopped up by one of those escalators. 
24. You’ll get knocked over by the guy who doesn’t realize "T-surfing" -- traveling in the middle of the train without hanging onto a pole -- is synonymous with “keeping your balance.”
25. You’ll watch as a Commonwealth Ave pedestrian passes your B Line train. 
26. You’ll go through the gate, forget something outside, then have to wait 20 minutes for your monthly pass to reset before you go through again.
27. Etiquette demands that all disembarking passengers be let off before boarding passengers get on. You will see this etiquette rule violated about 1,436 times a day. 
28. You’ll get stuck in the floating middle piece between Green Line cars and nearly get pinched every time it goes around a corner.
29. Unexpected shuttle service between stations -- thanks, unannounced weekend repairs -- on the coldest day of the year.
30. Unexpected shuttle service between stations on the day you have a can’t-miss meeting. 
31. You’ll miss your train by five seconds. The next train will stop for an extra three minutes at every stop for a "schedule adjustment."

Flickr/Shinya Suzuki

32. The prerecorded Red Line messages will make you yearn for the days of pissed-off operators yelling about delays. 
33. Then you’ll get yelled at by a Green Line operator and wish for automation.
34. Funyun smells at 9 am.
35. Booze fumes at 9 am.
36. You’ll use a real-time app to try and time your commute perfectly, only to find that the real-time app is not at all tethered to the reality of the T.
37. You’ll rush to catch the final train of the night and then fume as it sits there for 25 minutes. 
38. Friends will tell you all about the elusive cat who lives under the tracks at [BLANK] station, but you’ll never see any shred of evidence of its existence. 
39. You’ll totally see some mice though. (Seriously, they should get a cat to take care of that.)  
40. You'll notice that shadowboxing is more common than you think.
41. As are costumed riders.

Flickr/Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

42. Including many Freedom Trail tour guides. 
43. The "No Pants Subway Ride" day won’t seem that weird to you. (Doesn’t every third T-rider wear shorts in January?)
44. You will watch a passenger board the train and then stand right in front of the doors rather than move to the back. 
45. You’ll read a newspaper article about MBTA delays while waiting out an MBTA delay. 
46. You’ll see something, but you won’t say something. 

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Meaghan Agnew has been kvetching about the T since she was eight years old (her parents taught her well). Follow her commute on Twitter and Instagram at @meaghandeth.



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