DERAILING ARE US – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Yes! We Derail!

I moved to Massachusetts in 1988, one year after returning from Israel. Garry and I already had a “thing” and I thought he would collapse from exhaustion if he kept driving back and forth every weekend or two from Boston to Long Island.

With the help of friends (bless you), I found a good job not far from Boston. It was the 1980s and Massachusetts was blooming with high-tech companies, all of which would soon move out to the west coast. But for one decade, Massachusetts had full employment and great salaries. We were very optimistic.

I lived on my own for a year, then bought a small condo in Lynn (big mistake, but to be fair, everyone believed the area was going to improve) … until G.E. closed and put everyone out of work.

South Station 2016

Garry and I got more serious, so I rented my little condo and Garry and I got a beautiful place on the Charles River just a few blocks from Channel 7. Not close to where I worked, but at least I was commuting the wrong way. Now, there IS no wrong way. Commuters go every which way.

Inside South Station

I thought I could take the train to work … but I had irregular hours and getting to the station to get the train was not simple and required at least one bus and the underground. So I drove. I owned one of the original Hyundais. It had a huge engine — 48 liters! I bought it with a manual transmission. Even so, to get it to move you had to open a door and push with your foot. I’m pretty sure one of our small dogs could have beat it on flat ground and do even better up a hill!

I moved in with Garry and in the course of a year, we agreed to marry. He had never married. I was a two-time loser. Well, really, a one-time loser and a one-time giver-upper. For the first couple of years in Boston, we had very little snow. I was surprised but Garry just smirked. He knew it would be back. It always came back.

South station 1929

That was when I discovered that the trains in Boston derail when you look at them cross-eyed. This is because no mayor or other legal body had ever been willing to spend the money to fix the trains. Every year, the rails would freeze, the trains would derail, every commuter in Boston would complain loudly and Garry and his TV cohorts would cover the same story. Again.

South Station 1905

That was more than 30 years ago. No one has fixed the trains. No one has replaced the tracks. Except these days, the rails are so bad that the trains derail all year round. You don’t need to wait for snow. They derail and crash anyway. We don’t have those modern software packages that warn trains of other oncoming trains or bad rails or ice on the tracks.

Every year, they hire a new transportation manager and fire him or her in the spring. Because everyone is cross and angry about the trains not running. In 2019, the run a lot worse than they did in 1988 and although in theory, they are trying to fix (some of) them, they have left them to disintegrate for so long, it will take a huge amount of money and time to get them to work like “real” trains.

Derail? That’s the nickname for our transport system.

And tank trap is the nickname for the roads the cars use.

Categories: #FOWC, Daily Prompt, Fandango's One Word Challenge, Marilyn Armstrong, old photograph, Photography, Transportation

Tags: , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. Love this post Marilyn. Just the way if was written was so captivating!


  2. Good to know Marilyn, I’ll avoid those trains.


  3. Infrastructure, not just in Boston, but a major problem all over the US of A.., and the rail system heads the list. I live in a major western city, supposedly the fastest growing in the country, and there is no passenger train service to or from here. If you want to travel by train you need to travel 140mi north, or 100+mi south to find a working depot. I swear I’m gonna try it some day.., I’ve loved trains since childhood, and especially since my Uncle George worked for the NY Central Railroad. He used to say “if you look out and see rust on the rails, that’s a good thing.., it means new tracks have been laid. I haven’t seen rust in a long time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bro, your Uncle George was a sage.


    • We wanted to take the train to you and finally gave up. There are a lot of areas where the tracks are in terrible condition, so you have to get OFF the train, take a bus, haul all your luggage and with luck, find a reasonable seat on the next train. AND it would take 72 hours!


      • The “Up” side is that you would see a lot more, and I dare say a few photo opportunities not available from the air. 72hrs? Everything is trade-off. Folks don’t see America when traveling by air. They DO see airports tho.., lots of airports where other adventures can be had. Lost luggage, missed connections, cramped seating, terrible food at exorbitant prices, and, of course, many stories about these mishaps. Am I being too negative here?

        The only thing air travel is good for is reaching your destination in less time, enabling you to spend more time there. Having time, and defined goals, can make this a good thing. But that being said, I loved traveling, by car, across-country in 2017.


  4. I think a lot of major cities, and even Amtrak, are having trouble maintaining their local rail systems due to the high cost of repairs and upgrades. It’s a shame, since other countries are investing a lot in fast and reliable intracity and intercity train transportation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s a big shame because there are many places you can’t go by train even though technically the trains go there. But the tracks are in such poor condition and we’ve spent nothing on upkeep … I wanted to go to Arizona train. i thought we’d actually get to see the country, not just fly over it. But we actually couldn’t. There were a lot of areas where we would have had to get off the train, find a bus, travel to the next station — hauling all our luggage with us. AND it would have taken somewhere in the realm of 72 hours!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I did take Amtrak from San Francisco to Boston a few years back. It was nice to see some of the scenic parts of the west (i.e., The Rockies), but it took almost 4 days and there were lots of delays and the trains ran very late.


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