Compared with all this, the T is really a sweet-natured transportation system. True, my first ride on it made me want to throw up, but that was just a matter of mechanics: the grinding, irritable progress of an old-school Green Line train, its jolting stop-starts and near-senile querulousness with traffic, was not something I was used to. As far as passenger manners go, well, people are rude all over. They are also nice all over. The blaring hegemony of a student-stuffed late-night B train is not something I enjoy, but it’s better than a carriage-load of soccer supporters coming down London’s Jubilee Line. And one can have some interesting conversations here in Boston: on the Red Line once, a man who looked like Santa Claus’s distressed younger brother offered me a swig of something he was drinking from a Gatorade bottle. It appeared to have lumps of pineapple, or melon balls, floating in it. I asked him what it was. “This?” he said, surprised at the question. “This is cuckoo juice. Ah, you’re a good man.”
I do not wish to overstate the savagery of the London Underground, or the gentility of the T. There are pockets of civilization on the former, and pockets of anarchy on the latter. But London is a smoldering First World capital, and Boston is a tight-assed Northeast conurbation. And if you don’t believe me, go through a hole in the ground.
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