Today, despite the terrible news, reminded me of why I feel so much more welcome in Boston than I did in Arizona.

I was at Mass General this afternoon, on my way out as the ambulances were on their way in. Reception was warning people that the entire T might be shut down, because that's what the news was saying at the time. MGH is literally right next to the T stop -- you have a good view of Yawkey Outpatient behind the Liberty Hotel from the platform, in fact.

So I walked out and across the street, preparing to hoof it home down the Esplanade and then Mass Ave if I needed to. I expected people to be streaming out of the T, but they weren't, and no one was posted at the door to shoo away the confused, which is generally what the MBTA does when a stop is closed. They were all flooding into the T, as it turned out; nothing was stopping downtown, but Green and Orange still had service at the distal ends, and the Red tunnels are farther underground, so they were just running trains straight through with no Back Bay stops.

Charles/MGH has a pretty big lobby. It was pretty full of people. A lot of them were talking on their phones, and most of them were obviously worried and really wanted to get home. Nobody was shoving. Nobody was yelling. Nobody even jumped the fare gates -- one couple calmly but efficiently herded about a dozen toddlers through the proper way. They were all doing this entirely on their own. None of the T employees were downstairs watching the gates, in fact; they were all up on the platform, telling people that yes, you can still get out to Alewife from here, we are running trains as fast as we can.

(To be honest, I don't think the transit people would have done anything if people had had been jumping gates. They explicitly waive the subway and bus fare every year on Independence Day and (I think) on New Year's, when someone with some brains decided that it was worth taking the loss to avoid having to argue with literally hundreds of thousands of drunks who need to get home but can't handle operating the vending machines. I expect their emergency evacuation policy involves the sentence, "Tell everyone to just get on the train.")

Nobody was shouting in the train car, either. People were still letting passengers off before trying to board. The closest I heard to complaining was one man in my car, asking about whether anyone got cell signals underground, because he wanted to call his wife as soon as possible. As it happens, the Red has recently put in a lot of signal repeaters on the Cambridge end, and he only had to wait until Harvard.

People say thank you to the bus drivers out here, and to the train drivers too, if they happen to be going past the cab on their way off the platform. They even do it if they're only on a bus in the first place because some part of the subway broke, and the T has had to substitute shuttle service. (That was my first thought, actually, when I overheard someone asking if they were shutting down the Red Line -- they were doing work under Cambridge over the weekend, and I wondered if something had gone catastrophically wrong and the tunnel roof had come down.) And they also say thank you to T employees who are trying to get them the hell out of downtown as quickly as possible.

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