I realized today, while sitting in a subway station, that I feel the same way about public transportation as Muslims feel about Allah: Some things just shouldn’t be depicted.
For those of you unfamiliar with Boston’s public transportation system (which is no one, because everyone who reads this is a 20- or 30-something who lives in Boston and can’t afford not to take the subway), it is often represented by this guy:
Like so much else on the Interwebs these days, the history of Charlie’s name is political, deriving from a folk song written to support a Progressive Party (read: Commie Bastard) candidate in 1949. But the contemporary history, the one that’s being written everyday in the refurbished wasteholes and desolate lean-tos known as “T stations,” is even bleaker.
As I was sitting at Park Street, the megahub of the subway system, I noticed that every single picture of Charlie I could see around me had been defiled. And not in the sexy way, either. It literally looked like someone had smeared shit all over Charlie’s face(s). The chain reaction that this realization set off in my mind is sad in its exhaustive analysis of something so straight-up stupid:
1. Oh, that’s kind of sad.
2. Why do I care so much about an asinine cartoon character? He’s meant to represent the MBTA, he’s not a real person.
3. This is probably a statement about how much the vandal hates the MBTA.
4. Yeah, fuck the MBTA! Fuck their proposed fare increases and service cuts! Free public transportation for all!
5. Wait, why is public transportation represented by a person, again?
That’s where the reaction ended, because I’m still stuck on figuring out why anyone would feel the need to personify the MBTA like this. I assume it’s to make the MBTA more relatable, something that people can feel a certain bond with. But, let’s be honest–do you know anyone who has a forehead that just drops like a baby down a manhole, right into their nose? Or anyone who has skin the color of fermenting caramel? I mean, if you really wanted to personify the subways or buses, why wouldn’t you just use the people who actually fucking run them? Put pictures of bus drivers up on buses, for example? That’s what they do in Portland, OR. But, then again, they also think things like “barcades” and “vegan food trucks” are good ideas. Buncha commie douchebags.