I might be biased because I’ve lived in Boston for four years and currently live in the city, but I think that the process of getting money loaded onto your Charlie Card for the T is extremely easy; there are machines everywhere and the touchscreen interface is actually pretty well designed. Despite their ease of use, people always seem to have a problem figuring them out, with long lines of antsy Bostonians waiting behind a clueless tourist. I can identify with the tourists because when I first went to college in a suburb of NYC I was definitely “that guy” on the subway who was holding up the line trying to figure out how to buy a ticket. I would always say, “It’s not my fault, I’m from Maine”, the New Yorkers were never very sympathetic. I eventually learned the ins and outs of living in cities but it took a little while to get comfortable.
Today I noticed a guy who had been having a hard time with the machine. He was clearly a tourist or visiting a friend because he was carrying a large duffle bag and a rolling suitcase. Full of stress, he walked up to the T-Staff to ask a question and get some help. As I walked by, I offered to beep him through the gates with my own card and save him the hassle. I have a monthly pass so it didn’t cost me anything, plus I was on my way home anyway. So I beeped my Charlie Card on the machine and he headed down the stairs yelling, “Thanks Dude!” on the way down the stairs trying to catch the train that just arrived.
Similar to my other random acts of kindness this month, this one took hardly any time at all. I barely even broke my stride, still en route from the train station to my apartment. Normally I wouldn’t have even noticed this guy and his problem because it happens all the time, nothing out of the ordinary. However, taking my city-slicker hat of, I know that if I were in an unfamiliar city and someone solved my stressful situation by hooking me up with a free ride on the train I’d be stoked. I hope he was stoked and got to his destination in one piece.