We survived the Fourth of July

Geoff here- last night was a VERY long police detail for me.  I arrived at the police station at around 6:20 PM yesterday and arrived home this morning around 1:40 AM.  In between was a virtually non-stop flood of cars and people.  Everyone had a good time, and I even saw a few people I knew.  But I am still wondering how so many people manage to get into such a relatively small space.  I am just not that big a fan of crowds, I guess.  There must have been half a million people all together.  Still, it was not too bad, relatively speaking, as at least we did not have a lot of violence or troublemakers to worry about.  There was some of that, but none anywhere near where I was, which was on Mass Ave., along the main route (at least in Cambridge) to and from the Mass Ave bridge and thus prime fireworks viewing area.  I was with two regular Cambridge officers, but even with three of us we really had our hands full.  So many people were not paying attention – drivers AND pedestrians.  It really is a miracle no one was hurt.

I don’t get the people who have lived here for a good while and still haven’t figured out that the night of July 4th is a bad time to be anywhere near that part of the Charles River in your car.  I mean, you expect tourists to not know, but people who have been around should know better.  I could not believe how many people I had to tell “no, you CANNOT go on the bridge – it is blocked to all vehicle traffic”…  and they wanted to argue about it.  I don’t make the rules, I just have to enforce them.  And how exactly do you expect to get on the bridge, even if I let you?  You going to navigate through a crowd of several hundred thousand people, with lawn chairs and beach blankets, watching the show?

Still, the fireworks show was pretty spectacular.  I could not hear any of the music from where I was, which is just as well because you just know they would play that Lee Greenwood song that I hate.

Anyway, back to the routine, which these days has been job hunting and house cleaning.

It’s that time of year again…

They’re invading and there is nothing we can do to stop them.  No proactive measures, no way to seal the entrances, nothing.  And you know what?  There are some people who think that their presence here is actually a good thing.

No, I’m not talking about cockroaches, though I might as well be.  I’m talking about tourists.

Today is the other day of the year when our fair city swells with the ranks of Townies, Suburbanites, and those dreaded infiltrators, Tourists.

When I worked in retail on Beacon Hill I used to have to work on the 4th of July.  It was absolute hell.  I worked in an antique store and that day we got hordes of two types of people, thieves and tourists.  The thieves were there for only one purpose, to steal from us or from the tourists.  The tourists were there largely to gawk or to ask us dumb questions.  The #1 top question was, “Do you have any silver by Paul Revere?”

For those of you not in the know, Paul Revere was a silversmith but not a prolific one by any means.  On the rare occasion that one of his pieces is unearthed in a private collection somewhere it is usually sold at auction and goes for big money.  The last time I remember a piece being sold it was auctioned off by a church and the proceeds were used to refinance the rehabbing of the entire sanctuary.  So, no, the tiny little shop I worked for did not and would never have a piece of silver by the most famous and one of the least prolific silversmiths in US History.

Charles St., where I used to work, leads directly to the Hatch Shell where the Pops play and the fireworks take place.  People who are really insane devoted actually camp out overnight so they can get a space on the Esplanade in front of the Hatch Shell the morning of the 4th and they sit there ALL DAY waiting for the festivities to begin.  That meant that at the end of the day on the 3rd and during the day on the 4th we’d be flooded on Charles St. with drunks, revelers, and all sorts of folks looking to make a dime off the tourists who’d flock to Boston for a “genuine American 4th of July experience.”

July 5th in Boston, and on the other side of the river in Cambridge, looks a bit like Time’s Square on January 1st each year.  Trash is strewn everywhere, food, bottles, and, of course, the results of people who drank too much and couldn’t, ahem, make it to a bathroom.  It is mayhem.  Most locals head out of the town for the 4th.  Or, they do what I do, stay inside and batten down the hatches.

Wherever you are, I hope you have a Happy 4th.  I’ll be at home in air conditioned comfort away from the tourist invasion and waiting for Geoff to come home from his patrol.  Think of him as you watch the fireworks, he’ll be out herding cats tourists.

~Kelly

They’re baaack…

You know, it happens every year.  And every year I forget about it until they arrive.  And then I swear like a sailor Geoff and want to hide in my house till it’s over.  I hate them, I really do.  You’d think that having lived here for the better part of 2 decades I would be used to this by now.

I’m not.

It’s the annual invasion of the Smug Twig People.  Lord save us all.

The best part?  This time, Marathon Monday, properly known as Patriot’s Day, coincides not only with Holy Week, but also with Passover Week.  Somewhere in Heaven God is laughing really, really hard.  Or, God’ s a Yankee’s fan.  Whatever.  I’m going to check the Muslim and Buddhist calendars and see if they’ve got any major holidays this week because if they do, then I know something cosmic is going on and the joke is on us.

Anyway, if you haven’t experienced Marathon Weekend in Boston, don’t.  It isn’t worth it.  The city is invaded, quite literally, by people from all over the globe.  These people are of two types: there are the Smug Twig People (STPs), the “runners,” and then there are the STP Entourage People.

The STPs are bad enough.  They walk around the city in their Boston Sports Association track suits and t-shirts.  It doesn’t matter that it is, oh, 39 degrees fahrenheit as I write this.  They will wear any piece of clothing they can find that will identify them as a Boston Marathoner.  The older, the better.  Mind you, by and large these are not the professional runners.  These are not the people who might qualify for, say, the Olympics by running this race.  Oh, no.  These are people who run marathons and put 26.2 stickers on their SUVs to prove that they can do it.  Running for them is some kind of drug.  These folks are, for the most part, painfully thin.  They don’t have muscle mass like the healthy, winning runners do.  They pride themselves on being bony and sinewy.  They walk down the street and ride the train with a palpable hauteur that makes you want to get as far away from them as possible.  These are people who will finish with more or less respectable times, but these are also people who think that a slice of peach and 32oz. of water is appropriate for breakfast.  This is an eating disorder disguised as running.

The STPs bring their own Entourages with them.  The people who come with them are usually adoring family members and friends.  These people are of all shapes and sizes but they are absolutely Better Than You because they are a Friend Of A Runner.  Most of these people are from TheMiddleofNowhere, TX or You’veNeverHeardofIt, Europe.  They have no idea how to ride public transportation, no idea how to cross a street in a major city, and God forbid they ride an escalator properly.  They literally tie up traffic for blocks and they are completely fine with this.  Nearly getting killed by a Boston driver is practically a badge of honor or, probably, something to check off in their bright green “Stuff to Do on Marathon Weekend” guidebook.

The best, and by that I mean worst, is getting stuck on the T with the STPs and their Entourages after the race is over.  On Monday the race literally goes all day.  People cross the finish line officially till sometime around 8:00pm when they stop handing out medals and unofficially till about midnight or so when the 11:00pm news wraps up interviewing the last people gasping across the line and collapsing in front of the Public Library.  If you are unlucky enough to be stuck on, say, the Green Line with a pack of sweaty just finished STPs, woe betide you.  You might as well get off the train and walk.

First of all, they will get on the train with their Entourage and stand immediately inside by the door thereby blocking the entrance for everyone else.  Anyone who has ever ridden public transportation knows that this is the mark of 1) a jerk 2) a provincial idiot 3) an entitled blowhard 4) someone who needs a kick in the head.  Next, they are covered in sweat.  The Marathon folks provide the STPs with a silver “Astronaut blanket” to keep them from cooling off too quickly, so the STPs wrap themselves in it and, medal hanging rakishly, lean against whatever pole is closest to the door and try to look beatific.  Meanwhile their Entourage are usually on their cell phones, also standing in the door of the train, talking to anyone who will listen about how fantastic the STP was in the race.  As if they could actually SEE said person in the huge pack of other STPs.

The best part is when the Entourage decides that the saintly STP deserves a seat.  Woe betide you if you are occupying a seat and the Entourage decides that the STP deserves it.  They will do everything up to and including outright demanding that you get up and give it to the STP because, you know, they’ve just taken a bus out to Hopkinton and run back.  Because, you know, that’s the mark of a totally sane person.  Sorry, folks, but if I have a seat I’m not giving it up to some person who just punished him or herself by doing something that can actually be bad for your heart.  And giving me the, “you’re fat so get up” lecture won’t win you any points either.  Contrary to what you may think, Boston does not close down just because a bunch of runners show up and slog their way up Heartbreak Hill once a year.  The rest of us still have jobs, still have errands to run, and with the occasional exception, most of us don’t care at all who wins or doesn’t.

Is it Tuesday yet?

~Kelly