Move Over Mary Poppins!

The real life adventures of one nanny, her husband, child, dogs, house, and whatever else crosses her path.

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Location: MA, United States

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Gas Mask Lady and Trash Man

Sounds like a Ben Folds song to me...

An IM with my aspiring actor friend in LA reminded me of some of my early MBTA woes, and since they were entertaining at the time, I thought I’d share.

When I first moved to Boston, fresh from Addison County, VT, and the grey stone halls of the College on the Hill, I lived with a former high school classmate in a third floor apartment about 3/4 of a mile from Davis Sq, Somerville, and everyday I walked to the T and rode in to Copley Sq. to work.

My first week of work, I was reading on the train ride in, and when we stopped at Harvard Sq., I saw an older woman get on the train. She backed onto the train, pulling a rollaway, and I was struck by her just-from-the-beauty-parlor helmet hair and her vintage Chanel suit. She was wearing a faux pearl bracelet and classic black pumps. Her stockings had seams! She looked like a super classy Cambridge grandmother on vacation. Then, she turned around. What I hadn’t seen was a full gas mask strapped to her head. It looked almost as old as she was, circa 1940’s. I saw Gas Mask Lady three more times, each time impeccably - if outmodedly - dressed and coiffed and accessorized with her gas mask.

Trash Man was a regular at Davis Sq. when I was there. We must have kept similar hours. He was an average grubby vagrant whose specialty was hauling around several industrial sized bags of rancid garbage. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being near the dumpster of a major hotel or restaurant, you know the kind of smell I’m trying to conjure. Besides the extraordinary rankness of his luggage, he was remarkable for his manners. He was polite and sociable, even funny and friendly some mornings, and not in a crazy-guy kind of way either. He was just a nice, dirty man with lots of stinky garbage. I never knew what to make of him. I always said good morning, and he always smiled. Often, I’d wait for him to offer to share some garbage, his manners were so flawless. Thank my stars he wasn’t that nice!

I guess my suburban commuter woes aren’t so bad, after all... The worst character I’ve encountered this week was a fellow victim of yesterday’s malarkey who said, “Fuck!” a lot. He made me think of Quagmire, and I kept waiting for the “Giggity giggity.” I’m a sick woman.

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