Image by Austin Dickey
“It’s horrible what’s happening to people in Boston.”
So sympathized my taxi driver late last week in sunny Los Angeles, where I wrapped up a nearly half-month stretch of hopping couches and motel rooms all over the West Coast, from Washington to SoCal. He wasn’t the only compassionate soul; telling people I was visiting from blanketed New England earned me the sort of hospitality typically reserved for those fleeing dictatorships.
As my California friends grew increasingly serious in asking if I ever planned on returning to Boston, I actually thought about running away. How about another week? Why not a month? In the end though, curiosity won out. Having no clue what to expect was enough of a reason to book my flight home; between the venom I felt trickling through emails from the coworkers I deserted and my duty to readers who expect reporters to share in their suffering, I was also on the verge of losing credibility.
So here I am, back on the arctic East Coast, at your service, and sporting clear reporting goggles that haven’t been blinded by flurries for two weeks. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’ve completely lost your minds (see: The Shining). Since I flew out on Super Bowl Sunday, most folks have altogether suspended their work and social schedules, reduced their Facebook feeds to Vines of dogs pissing in snowbanks and memetic MBTA effigies, and taken the Hub’s childish obsession over space-saving to embarrassing levels. You’re bonkers. Bananas. Proof? Take, for example, how my parking comments made you want to stab me with an icicle.
Some have run out of hope. Watching from Cali, I thought my lowly Boston media companions were just amplifying foul behavior, always hunting for invigorated ways to cover parking pandemonium. But upon personal inspection, I’ve seen shitty stereotypes surface endlessly. Sure, a lot of people have been volunteering plow in hand at the neighborhood nursing home; a lot of you, however, are selfish assholes, from those who don’t ordinarily use public transit yet now suddenly, loudly disapprove of the inadequate trains us maggots endure daily to the prick who hordes the Annie’s Mac & Cheese and pulpy orange juice at my local supermarket every time the weatherman gets ornery. I don’t drive or own a shovel, but otherwise I’m similarly vulgar; I’m just sharing these despondent observations from the vantage point of a person who departed paradise to parachute back into this purgatory.
Hell awaits. But before you take the plunge and leap out your window, consider this bit of positive news on one horizon. While some may find it cheap or desperate to link potential Olympic nightmares to storm conditions (or to marry them in a hashtag like #SnowBostonOlympics), in slugging furiously through slush moguls, Greater Boston residents have nevertheless grown acquainted with our regional limitations. And since the state of congestion, seasonal or otherwise, is sure to land in conversational crosshairs over the coming months, people are likely to channel at least some of their anger toward Boston 2024. I don’t just mean the fear of traffic either, though you shouldn’t count that out.
At this juncture, even the politically apathetic among us have to be concerned about how much any monster event—consecutive blizzards, that New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys collabo show at Fenway a few years ago, a Summer Games—consumes our public officials and their operating budgets. Every available municipal resource and even able-bodied prisoners have been tapped to clear roads over the past week, so people should now understand how unflinchingly Boston would cover any last-minute costs for an Olympics in the final stretch. And then there is the manpower issue.
While it’s always fun to badger pols, the truth is that they collectively serve some critical functions. From planning trash pickups to dispatching safety services, public workers have more important things to do than juggle distractions, and sideswipes like these last few snowfalls dull their rhythm. When asked in a public forum whether politicians could handle the added load of a Summer Games, Boston 2024 cheerleader Juliette Kayyem compared multitasking between everyday duties and Olympic demands to chewing gum and walking. But now that everybody’s seen how quickly gum loses its flavor when the walking slows to a crawl, it’s hard to imagine too many people falling for such obviously fraudulent rhetoric.
Since every rant needs cherry-picked examples for validation, I found the past few days of mayoral schedules to be especially telling. Instead of bouncing ’round as usual, Marty Walsh’s snow-free activities have been limited to attending “an announcement by JetBlue Airlines” at Logan Airport, and launching the mayor’s new mentoring program. Props on the latter, but the cold reality remains that the bulk of Boston’s energy of late has been expended on the cleaning and rerouting of streets. I never thought I’d see a 750-word press release about the weather, but the city sent me one for Valentine’s Day, complete with quotes from nine community leaders.
Of course I’m glad I bought the ticket back from California. Los Angeles people are more or less oblivious, and that’s why they deserve the 2024 Olympics way more than us. Even without six feet of snow, politicians there have managed to irreparably roil the economy, while locals came to accept years ago that their trains are essentially useless and traffic inevitable. In California, the pain of just a few more budget bloopers would be par for the course, plus their elected clowns are asleep at the wheel anyway. Here in the commonwealth, we have a relatively good thing going. Hopefully when Massholes finally thaw, they’ll realize that we don’t need any international powwows to fuck that up.
If they forget, remind them: #SnowBostonOlympics.