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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Strange day in Packard's Corner

Everything seemed pretty normal on Comm. Ave. tonight as a strolled up to a sub shop to grab a sandwich while Mrs. OL was working late. The only thing that seemed unusual was the street cleaner making endless passes on a street that is usually neglected.

That and the six TV satellite trucks parked on the median to the service road and across the way in front of Comm. Ave Associates. At least there wasn't an SUV still in the window.

It appears Timothy Newton is about to become a three-time loser. The 38-year-old trick driver is a good bet to lose his job -- and his license -- for playing bumper cars in Packard's Corner this morning. Fortunately, I missed most of it -- even if I was getting on a Green Line train in Packard's Corner around 7:15.

We made it all the way to Babcock Street, one stop, when, in typical T fashion, the operator says simply, "this train will be standing by. Take the 57 bus across the street." He mumbled something about an accident.

With the kind of focus you get when you are trying to make a tight deadline and the T breaks down, I didn't notice a thing as I started walking down Comm. Ave. Imagine my surprise when I came home tonight and saw a piece of the fence missing. I know I couldn't miss a pickup truck on the tracks.

Anyway, I kept walking while turning to look for a bus. I saw a lot of black smoke -- must be at Harvard and Brighton Ave. or Union Square, I thought. Besides, I now saw a trio of buses approaching. All of them full to the gills. None of them stopping.

Head down, marching ahead, trying to get to work on time. What was the noise? Oh well, keep on movin'.

A quick call to Mrs. OL informs me about the havoc Mr. Newton is alleged to have caused. I'm in a state of disbelief. I'm a former reporter, trained to be observant. I sure as heck noticed the fire engines and ambulances screaming up the street -- even noting two fire vehicles cam from as far away as Ruggles and Huntington.

About the only thing I can assume is I wasn't telling time too well -- annoyed at being tossed off the Green Line without an adequate explanation, seeing full buses pass by and certain I would need to dodge raindrops all the way to the office.

Catching up on the coverage at work, a few other thoughts hit. Covering news is a lot like making laws and sausages. It ain't pretty. Traffic helicopters where the pilot/reporters don't know the street names, saying the mess was at Comm. Ave. and Harvard Ave. Obviously that guy never went to BU.

Those kinds of running mistakes -- natural on breaking news -- used to be hidden from the public. Now all your mistakes are there for everyone to see and judge. Most won't care, but it still doesn't look good.

By tonight, there was nothing to see -- except for the satellite trucks. I always knew that intersection was a disaster waiting to happen, a dangerous mix of cars and trolleys and drivers who pay no attention to lights and traffic laws.

I always thought a car would drive up onto the trolley right of way and smash into a train or into people. The traffic light at the stop is long gone. Traffic Department must have gotten tired constantly replacing it after it got regularly knocked over. Let's try again, shall we?

A few key questions too: how in the heck could Newton play bumper cars for two blocks? How in the heck could he get a job driving a truck with hazardous materials? How could I have been so lucky to miss it, by a whisker.

Strange day indeed. Happy to be inside and away from the insanity.

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