The way we talk about the T around here, you’d half-expect every ride to play out like something out of “Mad Max: Fury Road” — flames, collisions, some guy with extremely chapped lips screaming nonsense at you.
OK, that last one is actually pretty standard.
But the day-to-day reality is typically not so bad. On the Red Line to Quincy on Thursday afternoon, the train was clean and running smoothly, full but not overflowing. Every stop announcement was crystal clear. On days like these — and the subway was 90 percent reliable in October — it’s entirely possible to see the MBTA and the many fine people who work there as persevering valiantly in spite of the state’s long-term financial neglect.
On Thursday, the conductor even reminded riders at each stop to step all the way into the car and remove their backpacks. Of course, almost nobody listened. And this drove home an uncomfortable truth: A big part of what we talk about when we talk about hating the T isn’t the T at all. It’s each other.
The T has tried for years to persuade us all to respect each other while we ride, with posters and websites and the aforementioned announcements — all to no obvious avail. So if you want to make the transit experience a little bit better, don’t be one of these people: all the worst people on the T, ranked from bad to worse.
16. The Doorstop
The Doorstop is at the front of a crowd of people waiting on the platform, but when the doors open The Doorstop take one step inside, grabs the first available pole, and just stands there, forcing everyone else to squeeze past.
15. Lance Headstrong*
Despite all common sense and the actual rules of the T, this guy brings his bike onto a way-too-crowded train car during peak commute, wedging it over by the door and then standing there flabbergasted when the doors open on that side at the next stop.
14. The Gardener
You ever see what happens to a Dunks cup left standing on the floor when the train starts moving? It spins and slides and sprays lukewarm coffee everywhere like an unattended garden hose. But The Gardener just got off the train.
13. The guy who clips his nails
I couldn’t even come up with a name for this guy. I just can’t fathom it.
12. The Pack Mule*
Look, I get it: God only knows what’s been on the floor of the train car. But if you’d rather ram a group of strangers in the sternum for half an hour than set your precious JanSport down, then I hope you grab that seat you didn’t know was soaking wet.
11. The Pack Mule Police*
The guy with the giant backpack is annoying (see above). But the guy who decides that he can then shove The Pack Mule is probably committing a misdemeanor.
10. The Walking Concert
Why would anyone prefer to play music through their phone’s tiny, tinny speakers rather than plugging in a $4 pair of knockoff JBLs? Clearly, The Walking Concert loves music enough to share it with the whole train.
9. The Speakerphone
Even worse than the Walking Concert, The Speakerphone will happily shout-talk long, unimportant conversations while holding the phone flat in front of her mouth like she’s about to try to swallow it.
8. The Masticator
Say what you will about the T: It does not lack for odors. And yet, The Masticator is happy to contribute still more olfactory content to mingle with the body odor and dried urine. And what’s the reward for this assault on his fellow passengers? The unique pleasure of eating an overflowing Italian sub on an Orange Line car that smells like the zoo.
7. People who don’t get up for the old
This is a little tricky because some kid tried to give me their seat a while back and I had to push him down a manhole.
6. People who don’t get up for the young*
Apparently this isn’t obvious: Little kids can’t reach the straps.
5. People who don’t get up for the pregnant
My brief, nonscientific survey of the recently pregnant reveals that the only people who reliably get up to give their seats to very pregnant women are other women. Men mostly act like they think they’re the Rosa Parks of Y chromosomes.
4. The Escalator Enthusiast
Are you at the carnival? Is this a ride? Then either walk up the escalator or stay to the right so everyone else can.
3. Guy who stands behind side-by-side Escalator Enthusiasts, huffing and puffing but never actually saying “excuse me.”*
Even more annoying somehow.
2. The Unsolicited Compliment
What is the success rate for this kind of pickup effort, where a guy bellows — shouting right through a woman’s headphones, book, or obvious lack of interest — that she’s looking fine today? I know dating is hard and you’ve got to bait a lot of hooks, but that’s like fishing with dynamite.
1. Kevin From Engineering*
You think strangers are the problem until you run into that guy from a different department and have to make small talk for the whole ride.
Awful. But it still beats driving.
*Full confession: This has been me at one time or another.