Chinatown Bus II

In my quest to return to this lovely third-world city from the less lovely third-world city of New York, I decided to take the local third-world method of transportation - the famous Chinatown Bus. You can’t go wrong for $10. Today’s Chinatown Bus was provided by the folks at Travel Pack, whose business plan seems to consist of gathering the overflow from Fung Wah (who were sold out when I got there). At least, the Travel Pack people said Fung Wah quite a bit - fung wah is the only Chinese I know.

My last entry bothered a third world native. Certainly Boston has some first-world qualities - the excellent health care system, for example, has not yet succumbed to the HMO bureaucracy. And since we’d all die if a certain amount of fuel oil, natural gas, and electricity wasn’t flowing all winter in the Northeast, there’s a certain level of decrepitude which we can never achieve (though someday we may die trying).

But my allegation that we have a third-world transit system stands; it has only been confirmed by the events of my trip to NYC and return to Boston. You take a ride through New Britain, Connecticut, Bridgeport, Connecticut, or Poughkeepsie, NY, and then try to convince me that I live in the first world. It’s been a week since the 20 inch snowstorm ended, and a week and a half since it started, but I was walking on ice-coated streets and sidewalks from Chinatown to my front door in Boston.

More impressive than sidewalks no one bothered to shovel in eight days was the rainfall inside the Boylston T station. I don’t know how it was even physically possible for water to be flowing from the ceiling of the T station when it was 30°F outside with a windchill of 15°, but it was. That subway stop was built over a hundred years ago and to all appearances has not been painted or cleaned since. I must admit that they repair the metal stairwell whenever it rusts clean through, but even the MBTA could get away with boarding it up with plywood for only so long. They’re not the Big Dig, you know.

Speaking of the Big Dig, what other evidence do I need that this is a third-world country? It’s been going on for eighteen years, and it’s still not over. It’s not a public works project; it’s a way of life. I rest my case.

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