Last night a friend and I, in defiance of Hub protocol, had a brief conversation with a stranger sitting at the next table in a restaurant. And all it took to spark this interaction was a zucchini-sized rat ambling through the dining room. "Whoa! That is one well-fed animal!" and "I wonder how many more they've got back in the kitchen" are not exactly Algonquin Club witticisms, but we've got to start somewhere if we're going to revive civic discourse.
The only other thing that seems as effective in prompting Bostonians to talk with each other is a particularly garbled announcement on a subway train. ("What did he say?" "I think he said there's a broken spatula in the gazebo.") So thanks to the MBTA and Boston's vermin population for making this a slightly friendlier city.
And no, I'm not going to name the restaurant. I have a policy of not selling out (OK, ratting out) places in Boston that serve dinner after 10 p.m. They're too precious to lose.