Where you get off the MBTA Red Line if you live in the northern tip of scenic Dorchester-By-The-Sea. The tracks are above ground, so the two subway platforms are elevated, with a shared waiting area stacked above them in turn. For whatever historical reason, the Ashmont and Braintree lines split between Andrew Square and JFK stations on their way to Savin Hill and North Quincy, even though the station serves both lines, with the result that inbound passengers have to race down to catch whichever train is pulling up. There is a signal with arrows that light up and different noises to help you tell where to go. Shuttle buses run to the JFK Library and UMass Boston, and a stop for the Middleborough/Lakeville commuter rail line was added in 2001.

Red Line notebook

It's past 11AM. I overslept, and now I'm late for work. It's the kind of place where they don't mind if you come in at noon without calling now and then, but I've been pushing hard against the boundary of now and then for quite some time now. If I catch the train just right, it can get me to Central Square in ten minutes or so.

It's early January in a Boston winter that's already set some records, and "bitter" is not the word for today's cold. It's a relief to enter the station and get out of the wind, but despite the crowd my breath still clouds and it's too cold to leave my gloves off once I've swiped my T pass. The Metro hawker left hours ago, the stack of papers in the box is gone, and the guy who runs the coffee and hot soft pretzel cart didn't even come in today. (I don't blame him.)

A long wait. I'll be later. I'm used to it. "Beee-ba-beee-ba-beeet" goes the signal, and we all shuffle down to the Braintree platform to wait for the incoming train. In weather like this, when the train's probably still a few minutes away, it would make more sense to stay upstairs until it rolls in, but then you couldn't stake out a spot on the yellow safety line, and everyone else might get on before you.

The wind makes me regret wearing only one pair of pants. An outbound commuter rail train stops across the rails and fence from us, then rolls away. The Red Line train still isn't here, but I can hear it chugging slowly up to the station—always a bad sign.

"This train is being taken out of service. We regret any inconvenience this may cause." Well, fuck you too. Back upstairs.

11:30 or so. Still waiting. Cold as fuck. "Bring-bring-bring-bring-bring..." and down to the Ashmont side, lining the platform shoulder-to-shoulder. The train rolls up in relatively short order, full of bodies. Nobody gets out. Next to nobody gets in. Back upstairs. Did you know that in Chicago, the shelters on the El platforms all have hot lights, with five minutes of blessed warmth available at the touch of a button?

The next train on the Braintree side is much the same, the last one having been out of service. Back up, then down on the Ashmont side. At last there's enough room to get on. Of course, the car is so full that I get to stand in the middle of the aisle, unable to reach any of the poles or handrails, but I'm from Boston. I know how to balance.

Thank you for riding the T.

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