LOST HORIZONS: ARMSTRONGS MISS IMPORTANT LUNCHEON, EVENT-DAZED, CONFUSED IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON

This is a hard one to share. Make it embarrassing, BIGLY embarrassing for someone who lived and worked in Boston for more than 30 years. The résumé says I worked as a knowledgeable, street savvy TV news reporter. Familiar with all the nooks and crannies of Beantown. Well, as the man says, that’s FAKE news!

Outbound

We had premonitions of a mission impossible last night when we discussed if we should attend the noon luncheon featuring nationally respected Police Commissioner Bill Bratton. Marilyn and I bandied emotions about the drive from rural Uxbridge into the big city.

Yes. No. Maybe.

We agreed it would be a noteworthy event. I looked forward to getting  Bill Bratton’s take on crime in the United States, especially the frequency of mass shootings across the country.  I remember Bratton’s tenure in Boston when drive-by shootings filled my assignments three or four times a week. Bratton has also headed Police departments in New York City and Los Angeles.

Surely, he would have cogent observations I could share via blog and our local newspaper. That was all on the plus side for attending the Boston luncheon. The negative side?  Marilyn and I shared murky smiles about our mutual nemesis — the Mass Pike and downtown Boston. It seemed almost comical as fear gripped our sensibilities.

Boston awaits

Sometimes you shouldn’t sell your fears short. We made it into Boston with minimal trouble, but I wasn’t fooled.  The first hint of trouble came when the designated Mass Pike exit was a no-show. No problem!  Marilyn, always the excellent navigator, directed me to and into Boston’s financial district.


Marilyn’s Note: You just know your excursion is in trouble when the designated exit from the Pike doesn’t exist. It means the directions are old. When there’s one error, you can bet your bippy there will be more.


The second hint of trouble came amid confusion in the parking garage of our designated building. First, we were on the wrong side of the building and that part of the garage was only for those with a transponder. We got to the other side of the building. Parked. It turned out we were in the wrong building entirely — despite the instructions on our invitation. I was confused and angry. I believe Marilyn was irritated with my confusion. Why didn’t I, the know-it-all reporter, know where we were supposed to be? I was irritated with myself!!


Marilyn’s Note: I was not irritated at Garry’s inability to find his way through streets that have changed completely since we lived there. I was annoyed because I told him to make a left and he ignored me — and went straight ahead. It turned out not to make any difference since we were at the wrong building in the wrong part of town. 


As the situation deteriorated with ever-increasing aggravation, we finally agreed on something.  Let’s get the hell out of Boston and head home!! Surely, the worst was behind us.  Make that mistake number three! We escaped Boston and were back on the Mass Pike. We would laugh about this when we got home and relaxed.

Mistake#4!

Marilyn was talking to me but I couldn’t hear her over the ambient car noise and blare of sirens from Police Cars that snaked around us and the Pike traffic. She thought I was faking deafness — which elevated my irritation as I focused on the route home and our newest nemesis, a giant midday traffic jam on the Pike.

Mother of Mercy!

Judas Priest in your Mama’s combat boots!!

I couldn’t take much more of this. Marilyn talked. I nodded while missing almost everything she said. I looked down at the dashboard and saw the fuel gauge edging down to “Empty.”  For chrissakes! We’re running out of gas??

Obscenities filled my mind as traffic inched along like an aging battalion of frogs. I had a nightmarish vision of what might happen next and told Marilyn I’d tell her about it when we got home. Surely, now the worst really was behind us. My stomach was churning as the highway traffic continued at a snail’s pace. Marilyn was taking pictures of our slow-mo drive to document our long day’s journey into hell.

Finally, we negotiated our exit off the Mass Pike. I casually looked at the fuel gauge which had now dipped below “Empty.” I silently cursed the gods and looked for an opening on the last major artery of our drive home.  My mind drifted off to other things, including tonight’s World Series game.  Something to smile about in anticipation of more in what’s become an exciting fall classic between the Houston Astros and the La La Dodgers.

I was pondering the possibility of my hero, broadcaster Vin Scully dropping in to cover tonight’s game. That thought prompted my first smile of the day.  My smile grew bigger as I realized we were HOME … in downtown Uxbridge.

Home again!

We ended our afternoon with Marilyn explaining to shoppers and staffers at our local supermarket why we were dressed in our Sunday best. Marilyn’s account of our trip to Boston seemed to draw smiles and laughter.

I’m glad someone thought this day was funny.

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.

87 thoughts on “LOST HORIZONS: ARMSTRONGS MISS IMPORTANT LUNCHEON, EVENT-DAZED, CONFUSED IN DOWNTOWN BOSTON”

    1. Cage, I’m still seething over yesterday’s events. Some things are really hard to dismiss. And, yes, I am still embarrased. It reminds me of similar events during my days as a “Crackerjack” reporter. My former work mates could attest to my inepttitude as a navigator on high speed chase assignments. Mother of mercy!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Garry — your prowess in Boston is not fake news — it’s just old news! It’s several years since I’ve been to downtown LA, for much the same reasons! You two really do look good when you’re dressed up — as well as when you’re not! And I’m glad you didn’t run out of gas — that would have made the story even worse! Sorry you missed Bill Bratton — AND Vinnie too, who went to Game 2 in LA (there were rumors he might throw the first pitch for Game 1, or even call Game 1, but that didn’t happen!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Slmret, thanks for the kind words. I’m sorry I missed “Vinnie”during game 2. I so admire that man and his work, his voice. I am spectulating about the pressure he’s received to participate in the World Series. I can imagine Mr. Scully repeatedly saying, “Thank you. But NO really means NO!” We’re the losers.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. My delight: I could still fit into the dress. My deep sadness: I can wear heels — I just can’t walk anywhere WHILE wearing them. The good news: with a little makeup, I look less like death. The bad news? I still FEEL like death — wearing a nice dress!

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I realized today that if we hadn’t stopped for groceries on the way home, NO ONE except the dogs would have seen us. I wanted to take pictures. Garry didn’t, until he changed his mind and decided we might as well get a couple of pictures of us actually NOT looking like slobs. I wear makeup so rarely that half the time i go to use it and discover it’s all dried out!

          Liked by 2 people

            1. For me it is simply to look a little less haggard — and block out a few of the huge liver spots on my face. I tend to look exhausted all the time, even if I’m not. Maybe i am and I don’t know it? I love the make up I got from a particular vendor, but she went out of business. now, I’m hoping I don’t have to figure out where to get new stuff I don’t hate. I’m too old for sparkles and a lot of stuff for young people is very sparkly.

              Liked by 2 people

  2. Damn if you two weren’t the best looking best dressed lost travelers out there…
    I can totally get what you’re saying, and there is little that terrifies me more than even the thought of negotiating any part of Boston for any reason. Ev-er. I suspect by next week even this week’s directions will have changed by one road sign and one detour. Again.

    Getting lost is easy. Getting un-lost is dreadful. You did good.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Judy, thanks for the words of comfort. I suspect driving through Boston has the same connotation as “GItmo” for some pilgrims. As the emminent wit, Sir Charles Barkley might observe, “Terr’ble, Just terr’ble”.

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      1. And we are not alone in the Terror Factor. There are stalwart people who have driven in Germany, France, India, and L.A. and they utterly refuse to drive in Boston. I have actually driven in Chicago on a Sunday afternoon rush hour, and lived. And you do have to do it every day, or at least weekly, to keep in touch with the changes, which seem to be omnivorous. Don’t feel too bad, at least you got unlost, and that’s a skill in itself.

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    2. We were lucky. We found the exit FAST. Sometimes, we get where we are going and get utterly lost trying to get home. Like coming from Quincy to ANYWHERE ELSE. Quincy — home of the Adams family (not the ones on TV … the other ones) is a mass of roads that run the wrong way all the time. This is where you can find a road that says — on ONE sign: Rt 1 North, Rt 24 South. You have to live around there to make sense of it. Getting into Quincy is relatively easy, but finding a way out? We gotten as far as New Hampshire before realizing we weren’t getting home. Maybe ever.

      And the GPS makes it worse, if that’s possible. It keeps telling us to make a right onto a road which is uni-directionally left. Argh!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois, that phrase just flowed out of my half-crazed mind. “…your Moma’s combat boots” obviously is part of a classic putdown for those of us a certain age.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We don’t HAVE a tee stop or train station, much less a convenient one. We have a train that whistles through once a week (I think), but the train station is now a real-estate office (a really nice real estate office). No buses, no trains. Not even a taxi. The nearest train would be all the way in Framingham and by the time you’ve driven that far, you might as well go the rest of the way. But I don’t think we’re going to do that again real soon. Boston has just gotten worse each year. So … what exactly did we get from the zillions of dollars spent on The Big Dig? Someone has to remind me because I seem to be forgetting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There aren’t any convenient stations for me either. From the North, I go to Alewife in Cambridge and ride it for about 10 times as long as driving would take. From the south, I stop at Quincy. Not sure what the Big Dig did except for cost a lot of money. Well, it hid the highway in places, but certainly didn’t make driving better.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it made driving WORSE because now, instead of being stuck up top, you are stuck underground. They didn’t even widen the highway … AND they eliminated all the parking for the North End. They really killed the whole North End. It’s nothing like it was. Ditto the waterfront. All the places we used to go gave up and closed. And we PAID for that.

          Liked by 1 person

        1. I have heard from many people — not just us — that driving in Boston is a nightmare. I think it’s the crowded streets, all the old twisted streets downtown that don’t make any sense unless you grew up there.

          I used to be able to navigate anywhere in NY — but that was by subway. I never took a car into NY until I was living in the suburbs and married.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. You two did look pretty spiffy.
    I can identify with your trip. Driving in our neck of the woods is a nightmare. One word of caution is to stay out of the passing lane. That’s when you’ll get rear ended by someone texting on their cell phone and they will going really fast.
    Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Leslie, driving in Boston IS a nightmare. Doesn’t matter if you know it. Just makes it MORE frustrating. I must’ve silently/frequently told myself “I usta know this area so well, Dammit.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Garry, Peter and I were in Boston many years ago. We got caught in some traffic jam and Peter was so frustrated he turned the car engine off and we just sat there. We became the traffic jam. He isn’t driving any more (thank heavens).

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Leslie, one of the first long form news pieces I did on Boston TV was “You can’t Get there from here”. I was a pilgrim and didn’t really understand, appreciate what folks were telling me. I was a smug probie. Karma has repeatedly delivered payback.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah but you didn’t KNOW it would be futile! I feel the same way about Denver. I think if going there and I think, “I knew you when , you whore, and I navigated Shanghai with a Chinese map and public transportation. I don’t need your phony baloney nouveau complexity.” And I don’t go there.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. We can love those great cities we never visit. I love New York. Haven’t been there for years. We lived in and loved Boston, but we’re not going back. All those great cities. But you know, most of them? We went, we parked. And then … mostly … we walked. Okay, in NY we took taxis and subways because it’s too big to walk all of it). But Boston, we walked everywhere. I was a great walker. What HAPPENED?

          Liked by 2 people

          1. In my case, with Denver, I did go back and I realized I CAN’T go back (you can’t go home again, angel or whatever) and I don’t want to go to Denver now. I’ve been bigger places, even better places in a way. And what it WAS is very precious to me, a lifetime of memories that I’d rather not overlay with new images and change. I just don’t want to. And the walking — Denver was a walking city for me, though in general it isn’t. I just lived downtown. The only city that interests me still in Zürich and inshallah, I will go back. ❤

            Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this post Marilyn and Garry. It simply highlights the deficiencies in the system which can entangle us all at a moments notice. You both look dapper and ready to take on the world. Only the world played games with you and you weren’t in the know. Simply put, glad you made it home in one piece with a spritz of gas in the tank. Thank you for sharing a moment in time. We’ve all had those embarrassing moments and I can personally attest to many myself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also think Boston is the nightmare for all drivers. Many people have come to Boston and left screaming in terror. Between the traffic, the bad roads, the parking with signs that have postscripts so you never really know if anything IS legal or not … and the fact that downtown looks like a bowl of spaghetti … well … it’s just not the best place to drive. When we lived IN Boston, I got pretty good at navigating it, but that was before the Big Dig when they completely redesigned the interior of the city — for staggering amounts of money over more than a decade — and yet left the city with streets even more impenetrable than they were before all that supposed repair. Or, in short, I’ve had it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I can’t imagine! I’ve never been to many large cities in the States other than Portland, Sacramento, the outskirts of LA and a couple others, but in those days, it was easy to get around. I’ve seen pictures of Boston and wondered, how do you get around? I couldn’t even in the good old days. Today, of course, it would be a complete blurrrrr. You looked lovely and dapper for all that. Sounds as though city planers weren’t particularly good at planning or implementing.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You don’t get around, really. When we lived there, we walked almost everywhere. Miles. Parked the car and hoofed it. We were not fond of the trains and even less of buses, so we developed really STRONG thigh muscles. I got really strong living there!

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I walked my entire life too. Growing up, we didn’t have a car but for a short time. Then when I was married (while married) we had a car. Back to walking. I always enjoyed walking; losing my site was maddening, annoying, frustrating and heartbreaking. This, not walking, is far worse! I hoofed miles myself. The old 5 miles to school and back a reality. Every trip downtown, the same, to work and home every day. It was wonderful. I wished I still could. You see more, enjoy more. I think, anyway.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Covert, you’ve just inspired me!! ” The Interior Secretary spends a day traversing Boston roads” — that story and a response from the Oval Office — coming up next — after this word from Viagra.

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      1. Not sure what Mongo is, but ok. I thoroughly enjoy you both. I tune in each day simply to enjoy your company which is always delightful, contains humour, sharp wit as well as truth and sincerity. It is indeed a pleasure Garry 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. So was Garry. But the little light didn’t go on and I know they build quite a lot of spare into the tank, so until that light flashes, you only think you are out of gas. But Garry is a worrier and until we got to the gas station, he was waiting for disaster. He didn’t tell me till after he filled the car.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well you both looked smashing! It is too bad you couldn’t have walked in looking all dapper. But this story you got to tell because of the mishap is a great one. I love the inserts for Marilyn. Just a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Condolences for your loss/missing out – but kudos for getting back alive and without running out of gas! 🙂

    So now our much prized technology is letting us down? who could ever have seen That coming?? 😉

    You 2 did look great though and i’ glad someone took your pic.

    I guess this just proves it: “Be it ever so humble, there’s No place like home!”

    Hope Sunday is a much more pleasant day! 🙂

    love

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The day worked out okay. We were REALLY tired, but I made dinner (salmon) and we seem to have recovered. Baseball, dinner, dogs. Garry took my picture and I took his. It’s nice when there’s another body around to take both of us, but until the dogs have opposable thumbs … it’s me and Gar 😀

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m sure Bonnie could take great pics of the two of you..if she really wanted to.. like if there were treats in it for her say? 😉

        You may just need to modify the camera button a little and use a tripod and autofocus. 😉

        love

        Liked by 1 person

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