Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I took the train in today.  One of our cars needs a new clutch and so I was dropped by the commuter rail to make the 8:23.

My buddy Kenny and I once kidded each other and said we'd never take "the 8:23" meaning we'd never be one of those guys who has to make a train to get to work.  We lived on Long Island growing up and there was a train line, the Long Island Rail Road, which had as its slogan: "The flight of the dashing commuter."  These words were painted on the side of train cars with a picture of a man in a suit dashing to make "the 8:23".  We laughed at such proletarian folly.  "Not for us." we said.  He has stayed true to the promise and drives two easy miles to toil.  Typically, I drive into traffic, today I was a dashing commuter.

Not so bad.  Walked down the steps to the Auburndale stop. Waited with other dashing commuters who were reading papers or staring at their hand helds.  And once on board, sat silently next to another dashing commuter and interacted with a conductor who could have been right out of 1956. He took my dough, detached half of a ticket, and stuck it in a notch at my seat.

I got off at Back Bay 22 minutes later-- on time-- and began the walk to school.  The route I selected took me through the Copley Place mall and Prudential Center mall.  I am not a mall guy.  Don't like going to them to shop and, even as a kid, never enjoyed hanging out there.  But the Copley Place and "Pru" mall are different; elegant in a non pretentious way.  So sauntering through there is not a bad path to take in the a.m.

As I got to the junction of where the Copley mall ends and the bridge to the Pru mall begins, I saw a very long line. It was so long that initially I could not see what the commuters were lining up for.  Then I saw what I should have predicted: Starbucks.  Had to be thirty people in that line, easy.  I pass those queuing for their morning fix, proceed through the pedestrian bridge and am in the Pru mall.  I walk the width, am nearly to the Sheraton that anchors the west side, and again see an enormous line.  Again, I can't readily see why.  I get closer and it is a Dunkin Doughnuts.

Once in the early 80s I was in a fender bender in New Jersey. I called my insurance company and answered a bunch of questions.  One was whether I had been taking any drugs before the accident. I said, "just coffee."  She laughed.

When I was in college there was a big to-do about the perils of drugs.  Then in the 80s, Nancy Reagan did her "Just Say No" bit.

Folks, coffee is a drug.  The folks lining up for Starbucks need a fix.  It's not for the overpriced muffins that they wait twenty minutes on a queue.  When I return tonight, Starbucks will not be as well populated.  However, there is, near Starbucks, a bar which will be buzzing.

Similarly, this evening folks will be lining up at pharmacies to get their legal drugs to reduce anxiety, depression, and other maladies brought about by living.

I never did much in the way of drugs in college.  Never "dropped acid' or "did a line of coke."  Thought it was too risky.  But I contend for many of those who did, they are no worse off than those who wait for twenty minutes for a cup of pick-me-up, or pay 6 bucks for a beer draft, or drop a xanax at night to deal with the aggravations that accrue.  I am not unaware of horror stories of those who did  become addicted to illegal drugs and I am not minimizing the risk with this or condoning it.  Rather, I think there are legal drugs that get a pass and when we talk about the perils of drugs we might want to look at our own legal consumptions as well.

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