The MBTA is Boston’s hopeless place. Anyone who’s ever had to stand from Park Street to Newton Highlands on a packed Green “D” train will know what I’m talking about, and don’t even get me stahhted on how bad it gets after a game at Fenway. Like most things in this city, it’s brimming with history and falling apart at its very seams—the oldest and most dysfunctional public transit system in the country. And if a recent article from Boston Magazine is correct, despite its flaws, Bostonians are finding love on the T more than anywhere else.
Here’s a possible scene. It’s a lukewarm summer night, and after an evening stroll down Dartmouth Street you get on the Green Line at Copley. You wait train after screeching train for the one headed in your direction until finally one arrives. You step into the car, clutch the aluminum pole, look up—and the next thing you know, you’re making eye contact with a devilishly handsome stranger.
Boom. Love on the MBTA.
Anyone who’s taken the T, particularly in peak hours, knows that you can be in it for the long haul. Some come prepared with a book or their iPod. Others instead choose to entertain themselves by looking at others. It’s an interesting social experiment, public transportation, a hotbed of modern life. You get the crazy homeless people, the drunken sports fans, the working class, the families. More often than not, you get something interesting to look at.
In a place that combines prime people-watching with one of America’s biggest college towns, ridiculously attractive twenty-somethings are practically destined to fall victim to the strange, if not terribly unusual phenomenon of falling in love on the train.
Green Line trains are more often than not the scene of the action, as they service the younger, hipper populations in Allston, Brookline and Brighton; the Red Line, a little less so. There is no love on the Blue Line (leave them be, they’re just trying to get to the airport) and if you make eye contact with anyone on the Orange Line, they’ll immediately sense your fear.
There are many unspoken rules to MBTA romance, the first and most important being that you don’t speak of it. The real world doesn’t apply inside this subway car, but it does exist outside of it. The cutie in the Needham Rockets T-shirt has a family, friends, a life, and even though you just imagined marrying him on the beach in Bermuda, you don’t have a right to intervene. Falling in love on the T is like Fight Club. You don’t talk about it.
All those people who posted on Craigslist about their missed connection on the train are in direct violation of this rule, though I have to give them credit for trying. In a world where online connections often trump real-world ones, meeting someone on public transit means you actually had to make physical, face-to-face contact with them. At the very least, it’s a step up from meeting your significant other on Tinder.
The MBTA is a hopeless place, but that doesn’t mean it’s without miracles. Sometimes trains run express or one pulls up at the exact moment that you need it. And sometimes, if you look closely, the neon “next stop” sign can look like yellow diamonds in the light, and you too can find love in the Hub’s hopeless place.