Can’t rent a car without a driver’s license.
OK. What are my options?
It’s after 10 pm.
- I could grab a cab here—they still have cabs at airports, don’t they? But my hotel is in Waltham, way out by the beltway (I-95 / 128), and that would cost—well, I can afford it, especially with all the money I’m saving by not renting a car for 4 days, but it’s still more than I’d like to pay.
- I could Uber, but that would be pretty expensive too.
- I have two sisters in the area, but they’re each 2 hours away. I’m not going to ask them for a ride this time of night.
- One of the people coming to the reunion is from Greenville. I text him—“Are you in Boston yet?” “Nope. Flying up in the morning.”
- Could I get there on the T? (That’s the MBTA, or public transit system. I used to ride it all the time, but that was, well, 45+ years ago … .) I call my hotel and ask if I can get there on the T. “Oh, sure. Take the Purple Line and get off at the Waltham stop. It’s a bit of a walk, but not far.”
OK then. I don’t recall a Purple Line, but I’ll give it a try.
Catch the shuttle bus to the T station—Blue Line—buy a Charlie Card, and consult the map.
Oh—Charlie Card, you ask? There’s an old song—I think it was by the Kingston Trio—about a guy named Charlie who gets on the T and doesn’t have enough money to get off, so allegendly (yes, I meant to spell it that way) he’s still down there riding around.
Well, the map shows all the colors of lines I’m familiar with, plus, I’m glad to see, a Purple Line. I need to take the Blue Line down to State Street—that’s where D.L. Moody got saved in a shoe store—transfer to the Orange Line up to North Station, and then catch the Purple Fitchburg Line out to Waltham. No sweat.
At North Station—that’s wheah Bahston Gahden is—I hit a kiosk to add more rides to my Charlie Card. Oddly, I don’t see any way to get tickets for the Purple Line, so I find a T employee nearby. She tells me to go down that tunnel ovah theah, which leads to the Purple Line; I can get tickets theah.
OK. Down the tunnel, which opens out into a nice big terminal. The Purple Line, it turns out, is the commuter rail system. The terminal is deserted, the ticket offices closed. The board shows the next train out at 5.35 am.
Commuter rails don’t run at 11.30 pm.
So why did she tell me I could … oh, never mind.
OK. Maybe I can get pretty close on the subway. I find another T employee—this one’s sitting inside an official-looking cage, so he must know what he’s doing—and ask, what’s the nearest T station to this address in Waltham?
Riverside, he says.
That’s music to my ears. I used to ride the Riverside Line (Green Line D) to my house. I’m in familiar territory.
“Now, the line’s getting worked on, but you can get to Rivahside by taking the subway to Kenmoah and then catching a shuttle bus to Rivahside.”
“Any chance there will be cabs at Riverside after midnight?”
“Probably. But if not, you can just Ubah.”
Sure, that’ll work. Take the Green Line—either the Boston College route (B) or Cleveland Circle (C), whichever shows up first—to Kenmore and catch the shuttle bus.
Which I do. Off at Kenmore—that’s the Fenway Pahk stop—and look for a sign to the shuttle bus. There it is. Upstairs, and there’s the bus, waiting at the curb.
There’s one other guy on the bus. Not a lot of cash flow for this route this time of night.
It sits for half an hour before setting out. Reminds me of the intercity bus lines in Africa that just wait until they have enough passengers to make a profit before they leave. Schedules are fiction.
Well after midnight we leave the curb.
Now, this is a shuttle bus replacing a non-running subway line. So it travels the surface streets, with stoplights and all, and stops at all the subway stops along the way. Which makes it, um, slower than the subway. Which is why they built subways in the first place.
I mentioned there was one other guy on the bus. He’s going all the way to Riverside too. So we stop at all the stops, and nobody gets off, and nobody gets on. We pass Eliot, my old stop (BTW, it’s named for John Eliot, the colonial-era missionary to the Wampanoag tribe), and we arrive at Riverside just after 1.
I’m not surprised.
OK, let’s see if any Uber drivers are taking passengers this time of night.
I haven’t used my Uber app for a couple of years. First thing it tells me is that my credit card is expired. Oh, yeah, had to replace it after a possible security breach. I enter the data for the new card and see it listed in the app. The green checkmark is still on the old, deactivated card. I press the newly added card. No response. I press it again. Still no response.
I mash it several times, hard.
The app won’t let me select the useable card.
I open its info and make sure the data are correct. Try it again.
Well. Can’t use Uber.
It’s after 1 am, and it’s 6.3 miles to my hotel, and it’s raining.
To be continued, yet again.