Have you ever wondered how to communicate with an organization as unwieldy as the MBTA? I have. I’ve tried a few approaches; I’ve emailed. You need to be patient with that approach. Three months is roughly the average response time. I’ve spoken with station agents. Many are friendly and eager to help; others aren’t and still others are difficult to find. Results are uneven and often dissatisfying. I’ve organized and written well-reasoned letters. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes it seems like more trouble than it’s worth.
Well, I think I’ve found a far more efficient way to communicate with the MBTA. It’s simple. Here’s what you do: stand in front of whatever happens to be the problem, and take a picture. This morning I took two pictures. Well, in fairness I took about ten, but they were only of two things.
An escalator on the Red Line, unit No. 504, was condemned by an inspector a few weeks ago and it has been out of service ever since. It’s been about three weeks. So I stood at the top of the escalator and I took a picture. And elsewhere on the Red Line, beneath South Station, a message board that ought to be announcing trains has instead been spewing garbled nothings. As if the MBTA is trying to speak to passengers in some unknown alien language. I took a picture.
Apparently nothing focuses the MBTA’s collective mind like the prospect of jpeg-based public humiliation, no matter how mild. Twelve hours later, the message board, although not fixed, was not displaying gibberish. And the escalator was running. That has to be the fastest response time ever! So, in the course of trying to snap a picture of what I assumed was the the MBTA’s language– the gibberish– I inadvertently began communicating well enough to be understood!