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The smells of the season on the MBTA

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  December 7, 2012 05:31 PM

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Orange Line Dec 2012.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

These Orange Line passengers, like most Orange Line passengers, had to wonder — what is that smell?

The smell of the season on the MBTA

Storified by Jeremy C. Fox · Fri, Dec 07 2012 14:32:33

The holidays are here, and as much as certain sights and sounds bring the season to mind, perhaps none are more evocative than the smells. Hot chocolate, peppermint, fir trees, roast turkey, frying latkes -- even the new-plastic smell of freshly unwrapped toys can bring to mind powerful memories and emotions.

The American Candle Association -- which is a thing that exists, apparently -- reports that Americans do 35 percent of their candle-buying around the holidays, and three-quarters of candle purchasers rated scent as a top consideration. 

When Bostonians think of the power of a scent, they may think of the holidays, or of candles. 

Or they may think of the MBTA. 
Oh my god, the stench on this Green Line North Station train is literally gag-worthy. Unbearable. #ew #MBTAannoy @universalhubKyle W. Kerr
Some legit smells like Parmesan cheese on this orange line train #MBTAAnnoy #mbtaCreatine
In this next tweet, Chelsea probably was contrasting the MBTA's slowness with the speed of light or of sound, but regardless it's an apt description. 
This t is moving at the speed of smell #help #MBTAannoyChelsea Bathurst
None of this, though, kept at least one person from getting into the spirit of the season. 
Homeless guy singing Christmas songs on the Red Line #MBTABragRitchie Sullivan
Perhaps the smells of the T make such powerful impressions because the MBTA makes sure passengers have plenty of time to soak in those odors. 
Is this seriously how infrequently red line trains come to South Station on Saturdays? Sheesh, now I know why I usually drive. #mbtaannoyAdam
#mbtaannoy 35 minutes on green line from Park st to north station. Shame!! Its quicker to walk. Quicker to crawl!Michael Dello Iacono
It just took 7 minutes to get from Arlington to Boylston. are you serious. #MBTAannoyCarey Mercier
So nice to stand in the cold waiting for the last train in a pack I wonder if they will actually pull in #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/jlwaLfsTrev8056
Hello T can you let our train into Braintree? It is always a surprise to them when a train arrives #mbtaannoy #mbta #mbtaGMrev8056
One overpacked southbound MBTA train every 15 minutes on the orange line during rush hour is not enough! #mbtaannoyDawne Thorne
It's no wonder some passengers get so excited when their train finally seems ready to pull into the station. 
Finally! #mbtabrag http://pic.twitter.com/5bENNGG4Arthur Liu
Once in a while, though, the MBTA will surprise you. 
Fastest #btrain ever! Made it from Washington st to #parkst in a half hour... #mbtabrag #earlytrain #timetogetdunkin #yeabuddyLeena Joshi
But the long waits are more common, and they can be made worse by MBTA policies.
"Front door exit only" on a single car E Line trolley. @mbtagm #unnecessary #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/YN7oLTKKLuke Sutherland
And sometimes passengers help slow the system down by selfishly having health issues. 
Like... literally when is there not a delay on the red line these days? Whoever had a medical emergency is rude. #mbta #mbtaannoyAllie Giraffes
@mbtaGM How can a medical emergency at Harvard delay all red line services by 20 minutes? #MBTAannoy #mbtaSabrinaTheWiseLatina
For the most part, people can't control when a medical issue will strike, but there are a lot of totally voluntary behaviors that vex their fellow passengers as well. 
People need to learn how to MOVE INTO THE TROLLEY #mbtaannoy #CommonSenseRitchie Sullivan
The T runs trains in pairs don't cram onto Braintree if you aren't going there Wait for empty Ashmont train right behind #mbtaannoyrev8056
Hate when people sit next to you on the bus or T and fall asleep -_- #mbtaAnnoy #getOffmyShoulder #weArenotcoollikeThat #instantshoveSweetz
Why can't these giants that are too big for a seat stay awake & support their heads #mbtaannoyrev8056
Giving her bag a seat on the #RedLine. #MBTAannoy http://pic.twitter.com/GMSJUPvBJeremy C. Fox
"You'd be proud of me. I've been writing erotic short fiction" I overhear one creepy man say to another at the T station #MBTAannoyAmira Delal
When people basically sit on top of me on the @mbtagm I sort of want to die. #MBTAannoy #mbtaproblemsAlex Hubbard
One of the #GreenLine sob story guys just held the door at #Boylston until someone gave him $. Getting gutsy. @mbtaGM #mbta #MBTAannoyChristopher
I love when I get a dude's gargantuan backpack in my face while on the T. Almost as good as being shoved into someone's armpit. #MBTAannoyMelissa K.
Really keen on sitting in that little solo seat on the Green Line, until I noticed a PILE OF TOENAIL CLIPPINGS UNDER THE SEAT. #MBTAAnnoyHP
One problem of note this week was people who boarded trains and buses pushing conveyances that were almost as big. 
Maybe rush hour isn't the best time to bring your Hummer-sized stroller onto the #OrangeLine. At least the kid gets a seat. #MBTAannoyJeremy C. Fox
One tweeter noted a pattern of such behavior.
Lady do you and your stroller utility vehicle really need 3 seats? #mbtaannoyrev8056
Same woman & stroller utility vehicle as yesterday taking up 3 seats #mbta should charge her 3 fares #mbtaannoyrev8056
These are all inconveniences that city-dwellers learn to live with. But what about passengers who aren't just rude; they're downright criminal? 
Can I use #mbtaannoy to mention 9 Brookline police cars showed up to arrest someone off my D train tonight? #mbtabrag? #mbtalawandorder?gehenna
And some just make no sense at all. 
that said, to the man who rode in the bus on a wheelchair and promptly stood up once off the bus and walked -- really? #MBTAannoyHeather
This being Boston, though, a good number of your fellow T-riders are at least smart. 
Dude on orange line just solved a scrambled rubix cube lickety split. That's worth an #MBTAbragAllison Francis
It can be hard, though, to find such nice things to say about some of the system's bus drivers and train conductors. 
The #MBTA should xfer this #BlueLine conductor to the #GreenLine. Dude's slamming on the brakes in tunnels w NO traffic ahead. #MBTAannoyChristopher
Make up your mind. Are you running this express or making all station stops? #MBTAannoyMBTA Rider
Why do #MBTA bus drivers always go from pedal to the floor gas to slamming on the breaks? Ever heard of easing into a stop? #mbtaannoyCraig Silva
Coachpeople who slouch, chat on internal phone, eat, snap, start b4 passengers seated, allow harassment in cars #fail #mbtagm #mbtaannoylablu∞z
But this week's #MBTAbrag tweets showed just as many good drivers. 
Ended up getting to Coolidge at scheduled time with traffic despite detour. With harassing passengers, our bus operator did well! #MBTAbragJustin
Whoever is currently driving the red line train including car 01832 totally rules for letting me on instead of closing the doors. #mbtabragsnowgray
Super-friendly and professional bus driver this morning - makes for a nice commute! Rte. 22 bus no 2196. #MBTA #MBTAbragCarrie Fletcher
It's my lucky day - 2nd super-cheerful bus driver of the morning. Rte 66 but no. 4196. It's a good omen! #MBTA #MBTAbragCarrie Fletcher
It's hard to know how your driver will be, though, when you can't even get into a bus or a train due to broken equipment. 
4 of the 5 Charlie ticket readers at Stonybrook have been broken for weeks. #MBTAannoyJosh Strauss
I see the Red line is in fine form this AM. 2 disabled trains and a signal system failure. #mbtaGM #mbtaannoyrev8056
It's worse, though, when the technical issues are combined with unhelpful drivers. 
Announcements not working on train, drivers silent. Good thing I'm not a tourist; wouldn't know where I was or where I was going! #MBTAannoyKyle W. Kerr
Or when the broken equipment is combined with overcrowding. 
Wonderful way to start the day Parking ticket machine stole 3 dollars & now Big Red cattle car #mbta #mbtaannoy #mbtaGMrev8056
At least there are an increasing number of stations where passengers can use their own, more reliable, electronic devices. 
Im at maverick and i have service ?!?!?? #isthisreallife #blueline @mbtaGM #mbtabragLauren B
And equipment problems should be no surprise if you stop to think about the history much of this equipment has seen. 
Listening to Sgt Pepper on the Red Line Sad to think that album was new when this train went into service #mbta #mbtaannoy #mbtaGMrev8056
It doesn't help when the MBTA makes repairs the same way a broke college student would. 
Another fine mbta repair #mbtaannoy #ducttape http://pic.twitter.com/TXArT1uRcharlene mcbride
Some riders have come to think of the T as generally unreliable.
I see the #mbta has its we will abandon essential workers this winter signs up #mbtaGM #mbtaannoy http://pic.twitter.com/2Lbi80Cfrev8056
Is it any wonder Charlene is frustrated? 
Hey @mbtagm: BOOOOOOOOOOO #orangeline #mbtafail #mbtaannoycharlene mcbride
Whenever the T gets under her skin, though, Charlene knows #MBTAannoy is there to help her express her vexation. Be sure to use it when you're overwhelmed by the smells, or the lateness, or the rickety nature of your jury-rigged conveyance. And if your bus or your train smells clean, or arrives on time, or appears held together by solid bolts and not duct tape, don't forget to #MBTAbrag. 

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremy.fox@globe.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @YTDowntown.

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