Armen Chakmakjian

Red Line to the Orange Line

In Random on May 18, 2010 at 12:29 am

So I was taking a scrum class in Boston on Washington St.   I had to take the same ride I had taken so many times in the 90s to get to the (former) Teradyne facility I worked in on Harrison Ave.  Actually it was between Washington and Harrison Ave, across the highway from N.E. Medical, Chinatown and across Harrison Ave from the Boston Herald.

Parking my car at Alewife I took the same escalators down, bought my Dunkin Donuts coffee, scanned my Charlie Card (different from then) and went down to the back of the train.  It was like I was in a trance.  I knew instinctively to go to the back of the red line train so that I could hop off and run down the ramp in Washington to get to the Orange line…up the stairs.

Riding in was pleasurable.  In those days, I used to buy the WSJ from the guy at the bottom of the escalator.  Thursday and Friday last week, I had my Kindle loaded with the new issue of the Atlantic Monthly and once done with that, switched back over to reading “Thinking in Systems”

Riding in was always pleasurable UNTIL changing trains to get on the Orange Line.  In those days, the Orange line was packed going into Washington coming down from Wellington and Sullivan squares.  Everybody gets off.  I even remembered how for a short while I was taking the commuter rail from West Medford and catching the Orange Line at North Station…getting on that train was bad because 3 or 4 trains would go by so packed I wouldn’t even waste my time getting on.

Anyway, hopped on the Orange line train, and 2 stops later, I was at NE Medical.  Got out of the train and there was the Hotel hosting the class.

Class was good, and at the end of the day, I went back down into the Orange line station and went back to Washington.  At Washington I was now the guy getting off the Orange line rushing down the stairs and over to the red line…and then it happened.  The thing that always killed me about the red line.  It would either happen between Davis and Alewife or more likely between Central and Harvard.  The train stops.   You sit there for a interminably long time.  You move around but then suddenly you feel sleep coming over you.  you start to doze and then the announcement “Waiting for the track to clear in front of us” or “an emergency at the next station, we’ll be moving shortly” something like that.  Finally you start up.  If you are going into Harvard after the delay people hop on and off the train and look at you sitting there like you have 8 heads.  If you stop between Davis and Alewife, you never actually feel the massive curve in the track going into Alewife station.

I went and got my car each day…drats on the second day I misplaced my ticket…had to fill out a form to get my car out, meaning I held up traffic leaving on a Friday.  Honking of horns.  filled out the form, feigned politeness to the attendant, cursed myself and sped down the ramp.

I miss it and I don’t.  I did read more during that 5 year people than any other period in my life.  Not much else to do on a train.  Back then I had discovered Avantgo for my Palm Pilot.  I used to read the stock quotes and news from a variety of sources.  When I took the commuter rail for about a year I’d eat 2 cheeseburgers and a small coke in North Station waiting for the Commuter rail train if I missed the previous one by a minute…a minute would cost me 20.

Those are my memories of the train rides.   It was fun doing it again…


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