Nonsense Overheard in Boston
I have been so crazed teaching almost a full-time load while still writing full-time and taking classes, so I’ve been remiss in my bloggerly duties (same old, same old). In the past couple of months, I’ve devolved from crazed writer to crazed writer/curmudgeonly writing professor. I bark at my students about attendance policies. I pop pop quizzes. I check their textbooks to see they’ve been annotating the readings, and then chastise them for their lazy, lazy ways. I do all this while wearing my literal professorial elbow patches (courtesy of H&M).
Once, a student who’d already missed half of the classes, emailed me a copy of his plane ticket stub a few hours before class, along with a breezy explanation about why he was in Denver and would be missing yet another class. I wrote him and told him if he missed one more class after that, he’d fail the course (cf, the course syllabus). Then he wrote back a snarky email and, realizing perhaps that he’d shot himself in the foot grade-wise with that email, he dropped my class.
Today I decided to escape the campus and do some writing from a cafe in Cambridge. Here’s a snapshot of some of the characters I ran into on just another normal Boston day:
-The guy sitting next to me on the bus was checking Facebook on his phone while drinking a bottle from a brown paper bag wrapped in a black plastic bag. Then he called his friend and they talked about getting stuff on Craigslist. When he recapped the bottle, the bottle cap read: Miller Lite.
-When I tried to get off the bus, another passenger who was sitting down waited until the absolute last minute before he got up. He jostled right in front of me. “You mind not pushing me?” I said to him.
“We’re all getting out the same place!” he shouted.
I almost quipped back, but I didn’t want him to beat me up. Instead I spun my backpack to my chest and clutched the front pouch where I kept my wallet. When he fought his way off the bus, he then crossed right behind the bus into the middle of the street, oncoming traffic be damned.
-At the cafe proper, I met a typical Cantabrigian type. His face was the same shade as uncooked pizza dough. He was wearing a blazer and he was talking about the academic job market. He’d just applied to a job at Wellesley. Then he started talking about New York, where presumably he’d also been asked to interview somewhere.
“Riding the subway is an emotionally traumatic experience,” he said to his companions, with great authority in his voice. “It’s so traumatic I probably repressed it.”
He exchanged a knowing nod with his companions. Had he looked over at me, he would have seen me staring at my keyboard, struggling to keep a straight face.