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Marathon Monday

Here in Boston, Massachusetts, yesterday was Patriots' Day, which means that it was also the day for the running of the Boston Marathon. From 1996-2005, I had the day off from work, which meant that I didn't have to deal with the impact of the marathon on the commute. Instead, I would walk from my home in Brookline to Beacon Street around 1:30 PM, and I would watch the wheelchair racers and the elite runners as they passed by. I remember the 1996 Marathon vividly, as that was the 100th anniversary, and I lived right on Beacon Street; Nomi had to have a National Guardsman escort her across the street that day on her way home from work.

Anyway, most years I've watched the Marathon in Coolidge Corner and I usually ran into friends who also had the day off. However, this year, I had to go to the office.

And my office is in Copley Square, which is where the Marathon ends. Which means that I got to experience the "joy" of commuting right into the heart of all the action.

So yesterday morning, Nomi and I boarded the Green Line C at Coolidge Corner at around 7:15 AM. (Nomi usually takes the #66 bus to work, but on Marathon Monday, the bus schedules become even more discombobulated than the subways.) The train was very crowded with what I assume were runners and spectators, and yet Nomi and I both managed to get seats.

But then we got to the Arlington T stop.

If you're not from around here, I should explain that on Marathon Monday, the T closes down the Copley Square T stop because otherwise it would be impossible to control the crowds. So those of us regular commuters who get off at Copley have two choices -- get off at either Hynes or Arlington. Since Arlington is closer to my office, I stayed on the train through Copley and then attempted to get off the train at Arlington.

And what I found was that people refused to move without my shouting "Excuse me!" at the top of my lungs. Furthermore, a mass of impatient people pushed onto the train just as I was trying to get off. I've been seeing a lot of that lately on the Boston subways, and I suppose I could forgive the out-of-towners for not knowing how this is supposed to work. But let me just remind everyone about one piece of standard common courtesy: let people off the train before getting on.

On the brief walk to my office, I spotted pallets of water bottles sitting unguarded on Boylston Street. I was very tempted to steal a bottle for myself, but I resisted. After all, the bottles were for the runners.

I stayed in my office all day until about 1:50 PM, when I decided to go outside and see how close I could get to the finish line at Copley Square. What with the streets being so crowded and blocked off, it turned out that I couldn't get close at all. I gave up and returned to my office.

Finally, when I left for the day, I discovered that one couldn't cross Berkeley Street at Boylston. I had to walk up to Newbury to get over to the Arlington T stop. This annoyed me to no end, as did the crowded commute home, with lots of clueless people getting onto the Outbound side when they needed the Inbound side and vice-versa.

But there was one final, minor reward this morning to make up for yesterday's shlep. Dartmouth Street is still blocked off by a big tent, meaning that crossing it was a breeze -- no traffic! I'd love it if the city of Boston decided to leave the tent there permanently, but I doubt it'll happen.

Next year, I think I'll try to work from home.

Comments

Wow, it sounds like the crowds have just gotten worse over the last few years.

I went to the Marathon in 1993. Leslie and I parked at Riverside in the morning, went to Chinatown for lunch, and got to the Copley Sq. area about an hour or so before the race ended. We had no problem getting a pretty good standing spot a little past the finish line.

It's a fun thing to do once.

Another time, I went to a party in Natick, along the route. The weather was kind of chilly and rainy that day (good for the runners, not so hot for the spectators).

In 1982, Jim and I were living in an apartment about 1/4th mile from Comm Ave. in Brighton (not too far from Cleveland Circle). I (briefly) had a job selling encyclopedias, and was assigned to work at a booth at Logan. That was an interesting day to be out at the airport. Runners, still in their shorts, showed up all evenin and jumped right on their planes. I remember seeing Bill Rogers, who was on the Today Show the next morning (I think he won that year).
The 100th running caused the event to explode in popularity, and it's been very crowded ever since.
I find the Arlington Station hellish to manage even on a quiet Saturday, with my bad leg. I shudder to imagine what it was like yesterday, with all that you describe.

You, sir, have superhuman patience.
I don't, actually, but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
I watched in Kenmore Square one year when I was in school. Crowded? Sure. But no more than one or two deep to get to the barricades or ropes or whatever they had. Must be fun to be so much more popular.
It is nice to have the event here every year, but if I can work from home next year, I will. (This year it simply wasn't an option.)
Yeah, when I worked for your current employers, I too was expected to work on Marathon Monday. My first boss said I couldn't work from home that day, since it was forbidden to work from home on Mondays and Fridays, so I took the day off instead. The next boss was fine with me working from home, and so I did. Whee.
Last year, I actually made the suggestion that people be allowed to work from home yesterday, and they adopted it. My problem is what with Passover vacation, I needed to be in the office to finish up a project.
You know, in the four years I was in Boston, I never saw the Marathon once. But I can't remember whether MIT gave us the day off. Classes would have made it tough to go watch.

So the subways really are getting worse? I was in town for Arisia in January, and it seemed like people were ruder than I remembered, but I wasn't sure because it had been a while.
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