This week I wanted to lighten things up, and the universe gave me what I wanted.
I was walking to the train after work last week, and as I waited at a light to cross the street, a young man sort of looked in my direction, looked away, and then looked back. He was cute, so I entertained myself by thinking he was going to flirt and turned my head, smiled, and looked full at him. He noticed, and asked, “Can you tell me how to get to the North End?”
The look on my face must have been that New England “can’t get there from here” look. Depending on where you are in Boston when the hapless, lost person asks you, giving directions can be almost cruel. “Follow Cambridge Street until you come to the third Dunkin’ Donuts on the left — the road curves and becomes Tremont Street, but don’t worry about that. Just ignore it and follow the road…” By this point, the person has that blank look on their face, and you both know they’re not going to even make it to the first Dunkin’.
I pondered which of the ways I could tell him that would be least likely to lead him astray. Then he said in a more pronounced New York accent, which I hadn’t caught before, “This place is worse than New York!”
I started laughing. Encouraged, he proceeded; “There’s no math, just old English names!”
This tickled me to no end. My work in hospital communications is the sole reason I even admit numbers exist, and over the past 9 years, I’ve come to appreciate the usefulness of numbers in the world. However, make no mistake. I’m a word girl through and through, and my world is rocked by letters and words. But I have never considered streets being math- or word-oriented. I was delighted to be in a word city.
I laughed even harder and added, “Yes, just old-ass roads with no logic.”
Now he was into it, laughing too, as he said with the perfect New York point of view: “Yeah, it’s like, fuck you, take a right!”
I got my laughter under control enough to point out the way that made the most visual sense–not the way that would have been shorter.
“Walk down this street, and at the light take a right (I skipped the ‘fuck you’). Follow that road, you’ll go under an overpass, and you’ll think I’m sending you to the devil, but just stay on it. Then you’ll see Faneuil Hall — ”
At that his face lit up. “I know that place!”
“Great!” I wished him well, and we both walked in opposite directions, laughing our asses off.
So, this is my new way of directing people in Boston: “Look, there’s no math, just old-ass English names. Fuck you, take a right.”
Image credit: From this delightful blog about Boston cartography. It’s how you have to drive to get from a point A to point B in Boston. You can see why we walk!