Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Way to Work

Sometimes just walking into work is an adventure. Take today for example. Who knew that a yellow flyer, a bus, a woman waving from me out her car window, and a tweet would leave me with the impression that in general, the world isn't such a bad place?

Yellow Flyer:

The last couple of weeks I've noticed signs along the walk the parking garage to my office for a missing dog. The yellow flyers greet me on nearly every street pole: lost miniature schnauzer, answers to the name Marcel Marceau. Call this particular number--no questions asked. For a variety of reasons I was moved to call the number today. It wasn't as if I had any information that would help them: Maggie and I have spied no stray dogs (or mimes) wandering around Cambridge.  Maggie alerts me to every dog as she would like to play with them. I’m alerted by every mime because, well, mimes are generally alarming.

Still, I phoned the number. I didn’t really have a plan of what I was going to say or even why I wanted to say it. “Hi,” I said. “I saw your flyers for the last couple of weeks.” I paused a bit thinking this might be mean, maybe I got their hopes up. “I don’t have any good news for you.” There. I wasn’t being mean and offering hope as I had none. “I just wanted you to know that I hope you find your dog. That must be terrible.”

I hung up. 

Who does that?


Moments after I hung up, Maggie and I nearly got run over by a bus. The intersection at Franklin and Western Avenue is particularly horrendous. There is a cross walk, and pedestrians have the right away, but few, if any, pay attention. It always feels like I’m stuck in the game Frogger when I cross the road. I almost lost today. Already into the crosswalk, an MBTA bus kept going. It almost ran me and Maggie the therapy dog over.

Woman in the Car:

Having already forgotten about the bus a woman stopped me at the next side street. She rolled down her window and started talking. She asked “Are you going to report that bus?” Rustling around her purse she stretches her arm out of the car with a card in her fingers. “Here,” she said. “If you need a witness call me. That bus almost hit you and your dog. It wasn’t right.”

Who does that?

The Tweet:

When I got to the office I decided that I’d tweet the MBTA. Within moments I got a response from the general manager. MBTA GM responded: “Did you catch the bus number? Would like to look into this and sorry about what happened.” A stranger tweets “Buses are brutal, more so than Taxis =/ at least you and your dog didn’t actually get hit.” A friend in another state tweets “Sorry about ur scare. Saw they responded, nice. Couldn’t help but think of that old joke “anyone get the number of that truck?”

Emboldened by the response to the tweet, I sent one more to the Cambridge Police. Within a few moments the police tweet back “Thx for the tweet. We patrol when we can & cite people if they disobey traffic laws. Glad u & Maggie weren’t hurt!” The police tweeter continued by tweeting “Thx for the info. Ur thoughts were passed on & hopefully we’ll be able to deploy some resources to make that intersection safer.” A little later I get another tweet from the police "We've sent out directive 2 our patrol/traffic officers requesting more enforcement @ that crosswalk. Let us know if u c improvement."

Who does that?

The Moral:

When the bus almost ran us over I was thinking that no good deed goes unpunished. That’ll teach me to call strangers. Right? I could have easily spent the rest of the day complaining about how awful that bus was, how people have become so self-centered and lost in their own worlds, how people have developed a me first attitude and don’t care about the perspective of the other.

I thought all those things this morning. However, as my morning progressed my bitterness softened. Rather than complain in the echo chamber of my own head I looked outward. I engaged in a bit of agency and complained--but did so in an effective way. People listened. Who knew?

Now mind you I still think I’m going to fear for my life and the life of Maggie each time I cross that intersection. I doubt things will actually change in a measurable way. I did get reminded of something important: If I want my world to be different, I have to do something. I have to speak up. I have to be responsible for living a life that mirrors what I want.

You do, too.

1 comment:

  1. ok. I have to admit, many blogs can cause me to chuckle. Few cause me to laugh out loud. This post caused me to hold my stomach in pain as I hysterically laughed for several minutes. Actually, I am still laughing. I have not crossed over to the twitter dark side and can not believe that you can tweet the police, public transportation.... Could you tweet a take out order? Anyways, that was probably the funniest blog post I have read in a long time! Thanks.