Boston skyline

I visited Boston this winter and passed the time reading some of my sister’s books about the American war of independence. It struck me anew how scrappy those early Bostonians were and how unwilling to be appeased, pleased or later cowed by their British cousins. Like a small dog fiercely growling at a big one with Boston’s ringleaders never missing a chance to make some noise.

It’s still an independent place. For example, I spoke to a worker from the newly opened Primark in downtown Boston – that foreign store as people call it. Indignant she described a rule that forbids drinking bottled water while at work. “Harsh”, I said. “Don’t worry,” she answered. “We drink water anyway.” When I asked if they risk getting fired. “This is Boston,” she said surprised. Then added, “Besides our bosses are from Boston as well.”

Boston - home of the scrapper. A place that likes a fight. When a terrorist bomb went off in 2013, the police told everyone to stay indoors during the manhunt. This was not to protect the public, but to stop people from beating the guy up - or worse - if they could catch him themselves. This is not a joke. Boston police have very steady eyes and great realism.

Long-long ago, I was with a group of students who occupied Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. We were surrounding, with intent to protect from arrest, a student who had publically burnt his draft card. This was a commonly used, symbolic gesture in the late 1960’s to protest the war against Viet Nam. Our occupation meant forming a human carpet, with dozens of us lying face down, crowded like sardines so that the police would have to walk on our backs to get to the protesting student.

I was near the door and very much hoping – as I always did during protests - not to wet my pants in fear, when I heard a radio crackle nearby and then a growling voice say, “Yuh. I hear you and we do understand, sir. But none of us is going to walk on those kids' backs just to grab another kid. And that’s final from us.”

Slowly I turned my head to peak. It was a heavily armed S.W.A.T.-type guy, staring at the covered floor and shaking his head. Then there was silence while we all stayed in place until the student was out of the building – Canada bound. By then the police were long gone anyway.

So a final hint, or rather tip, for any visitors to Boston. When someone says, “Have a nice day.” it's assumed you'll make your own choice.

I visited this winter and passed the time reading some of my sister’s books about the American war of independence. It struck me anew how scrappy those early Bostonians were and how unwilling to be appeased, pleased or later cowed by their British cousins. Like a small dog fiercely growling at a big one with Boston’s ringleaders never missing a chance to make some noise.

It’s still an independent place. For example, I spoke to a worker from the newly opened Primark in downtown Boston – that foreign store as people call it. Indignant she described a rule that forbids drinking bottled water while at work. “Harsh”, I said. “Don’t worry,” she answered. “We drink water anyway.” When I asked if they risk getting fired. “This is Boston,” she said surprised. Then added, “Besides our bosses are from Boston as well.”

Boston - home of the scrapper. A place that likes a fight. When a terrorist bomb went off in 2013, the police told everyone to stay indoors during the manhunt. This was not to protect the public, but to stop people from beating the guy up - or worse - if they could catch him themselves. This is not a joke. Boston police have very steady eyes and great realism.

Long-long ago, I was with a group of students who occupied Boston University’s Marsh Chapel. We were surrounding, with intent to protect from arrest, a student who had publically burnt his draft card. This was a commonly used, symbolic gesture in the late 1960’s to protest the war against Viet Nam. Our occupation meant forming a human carpet, with dozens of us lying face down, crowded like sardines so that the police would have to walk on our backs to get to the protesting student.

I was near the door and very much hoping – as I always did during protests - not to wet my pants in fear, when I heard a radio crackle nearby and then a growling voice say, “Yuh. I hear you and we do understand, sir. But none of us is going to walk on those kids' backs just to grab another kid. And that’s final from us.”

Slowly I turned my head to peak. It was a heavily armed S.W.A.T.-type guy, staring at the covered floor and shaking his head. Then there was silence while we all stayed in place until the student was out of the building – Canada bound. By then the police were long gone anyway.

So a final hint, or rather tip, for any visitors to Boston. When someone says, “Have a nice day.” it's assumed you'll make your own choice.

Copyright © 2020 Vision in Practice. All Rights Reserved.