At Boston’s South Station, commuters pause in their rush to trains and buses. Their eyes turn, transfixed, to a television showing CNN’s all-day coverage of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet.
It is a scene repeated time and again at bars and breakfast counters across Boston, as around the globe. Just as the scene is the same, so, too, are the questions: Where is the Boeing 777? In the sea? On land? A week and a half after departing Kuala Lumpur, how could a jet full of passengers and crew still be missing?
People discuss the scant facts and fill in the blanks with speculation. With no end in sight for the expanding search, theories abound among those sipping morning coffee or an afternoon beer.
“The craziest that I heard was it could be aliens,” Allan Kigen said as he prepared to board a bus to Springfield from South Station. “The most possible . . . was terrorists.”
Kigen was at Tavern in the Square inside the transit terminal, where a server said rapt customers have turned up the volume on the bar’s televisions to track the latest developments.
A former flight attendant returning home from a Florida trip, Kigen said the disappearance made him anxious about traveling.
“Especially when I was going down on vacation Thursday morning . . . I felt kind of intimidated,” the 34-year-old said. “I know exactly what the whole crew and their families [are going through].”
Darryle Brown, a New York salesman who often flies for business, said he is convinced that the plane was hijacked, but two bar stools away, Emilio Vargas said it probably crashed. Both expressed surprise that no trace had yet been found.
“It’s hard to get lost nowadays,” said Vargas, 27, a native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, visiting Boston for a seafood expo at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. “Even if I wanted to get lost, could I?”
Brown, 25, responded, “Whoever did it knew what he was doing.”
The crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 to Beijing was last in contact with ground control at 2:14 a.m. March 8, Malaysian authorities said. After that communication, the plane apparently made a sharp turn west, crossing the Malay Peninsula toward the Strait of Malacca.
A massive search effort has found no trace so far of the plane and its 239 passengers.
At Charlie’s Sandwich Shoppe in Boston’s South End, co-owner Marie Fuller said breakfast customers begin their mornings discussing the latest developments.
“It comes up every day — ‘So what do you think happened to the plane?’ ” Fuller said. “And every day, there’s a little bit more information. . . . Just that little piece, but none of the pieces of the puzzle are fitting.”
Fuller, 69, said she has not decided on a likely explanation.
“The problem is, every day I change my mind,” said Fuller, who lives in Braintree.
Attorney Greg Noonan, an almost regular Charlie’s customer, compared the disappearance to “something out of a bad movie.” In 2014, he said, people do not expect an event to be in the news for such a long time while remaining a mystery.
“Since nobody really knows what happened, it’s one of the few things you can talk about these days where everyone’s opinion is equally valid,” the 38-year-old said. “There’s no Google-able answer.”
Chip Huhta, a Charlie’s regular for more than two decades, said the disappearance called to mind the 1999 plane crash death of pro golfer Payne Stewart and five others, apparently caused by a loss of cabin pressure that left pilots and passengers unconscious.
Huhta, 76, said he is concerned about the fate of the plane’s crew and passengers, but the lack of certainty has allowed him to consider fanciful possibilities.
“I can’t resist looking at it from the playful angle that these guys are trying to make a point, and they’ve taken the plane and passengers somewhere, and they’re on an island,” Huhta said. “That’s my hope.”
At the South Street Diner in Boston’s Leather District, waitress Telma Silva, 25, said the television set is tuned to news programming all day, and customers come in asking, “Where did the plane go?”
Among the South Street lunch crowd, Jeff Brodeur, who studies transportation safety at the Transportation Communications International Union in Devens, said he has followed the story closely and discussed it in classes.
Brodeur said he has read numerous theories online and believes the plane was hijacked, as do some, but not all, of his classmates.
“I don’t know why they haven’t found it yet,” the 24-year-old said. “It’s ridiculous.”
At Victoria’s Diner in Dorchester, veteran waitress Linda Burke said she has followed developments closely and become convinced that the mystery will never be solved.
“I think something would have surfaced by now,” Burke said. Her thoughts have turned to the families of the missing, she said. “That’s got to be awful, not knowing.”
Burke, 67, raced from kitchen to counter to tables with little time to chat with customers, but during a brief lull between breakfast and lunch rushes, she swapped theories with Sue Sullivan, a regular customer for three decades, the same span Burke has worked at the diner.
Sullivan, 53, has also turned pessimistic.
“It’s tragic no matter how you look at it,” Sullivan said, “because the possibility of a good outcome gets smaller every day.”