You know it, you’ve ridden it so many times you don’t care to remember: the MBTA, with all of its quirks and intricacies. There are those funky stops where you have to go up to go down or some such nonsense. Let’s face it, you can get to a lot of places in this great city of ours but if you’re not fully focused, you could end up headed toward Jamaica Plain when you really need to be in Malden.
So last week I found myself in a situation similar to one that arose last year when I left my phone at home and, sans GPS, was rescued by a participant who directed us back to Triangle with absolutely no problem at all. We were headed to the ICA and we were in a bit of a time crunch. Getting off the train at South Station to transfer to the Silver Line, which we rarely take, I headed for the escalator up—except it was the one that exits to the street and not to the Silver Line connection. I was immediately reminded by a participant that that was not the correct way. A participant, who is an absolute wizard with the MBTA but who I’ve ridden the Silver Line with maybe twice, told me the escalator we wanted was further down. Twice I’ve been with him on that platform, (TWICE!) but I have so come to trust his sense of direction that I immediately knew he was right. We couldn’t afford to take a wrong turn, we had precious minutes before our tour of the museum started.
I’ve come to rely on his sense of the subways so much that I now ask him questions to make sure we’re going the right way, and you know what? 100% of the time he is correct. Am I surprised by this level of knowledge? I was when I first got to know him. But again, why should I have been? He is clearly incredibly bright; he just happens to have autism as well. He is a person who can help others out just as easily as anybody. And with him I know we’ll never be headed in the wrong direction, possibly late to our next adventure in this great, complicated city.