I know, you’re depressed by two weeks of frostbite temperatures and more than five feet of snow. You’re furious to discover that your public-transportation system is just a movie set, always ready to shine in its scenes with Matt Damon but incapable of getting people to work in bad weather. You’re flabbergasted when you hear the phrase “world-class city,” and you can more easily imagine Death Valley as a suitable spot for the Olympic Games.
But this crisis brings an opportunity.
Boston has a reputation for rudeness, for uptightness, and for excessive punctuality. This winter, God, and the MBTA, are telling us there’s a better way. We don’t have to go on Caribbean cruises to get away from the clock. We can take this once-in-lifetime rebranding opportunity and turn Boston into a city so laidback that San Francisco will go mad with envy.
Forget “the Hub” and “the Athens of America.” Our new slogan will be “You’re in Boston: Don’t Sweat It.”
We can stop worrying about Harvard and MIT graduates skipping town and taking their talents to Austin or Seattle. Imagine if local biotech companies pursued the most promising minds in cancer research by saying, “Your interview is at 11 a.m., but I know you live on the Red Line. So you’ll get here when you get here. Don’t sweat it.” Boston’s Financial District could woo the best and brightest of the Millennial Generation by telling employees, “It would be nice to come in before the stock market opens. But we know that’s not going to happen. Just shove enough people out of the way to get on a train before noon and we’re good.”
Do you have a social obligation you’d rather skip? Don’t sweat it. If a co-worker invites you to her baby shower, stay at home with Netflix. The next time you see her, say you tried to get there but your Orange Line train broke down because of a gum wrapper on the tracks. Tell her about the eight miles you had to walk through dark tunnels (the tinsel on the gum wrapper shorted out the electrical system), dropping bits of your homemade cream-cheese brownies the whole way to keep the rats from crawling up your legs. In another city, your co-worker might respond, “But I didn’t see anything about that on the news.” But in Boston she’ll remember that on the same night, a switching problem resulted in a commuter train crash that killed most of the Red Sox—while they were in the middle of a game in Fenway Park. A dead Orange Line train just isn’t worth a tweet anymore.
Marijuana is going to be legalized in Massachusetts anyway, so let’s do it now. At 4:20 p.m. every day, the entire MBTA can pause while passengers and crew take a mental-health break. Wait, what? You’ve got a plane to catch? You’re late for your shift as an emergency-room nurse? You’re trying to stop a wedding because you’re in love with both the bride and groom? You’re in Boston. Don’t sweat it.
Oh, you’re late for a meeting with the governor? If you can get a signal, call and tell him you’re stuck on the T. That’ll shut him up right quick.