Tales from the T Crypt

You’ve heard of the “workplace culture?” In Massachusetts, it’s the “sleep-place culture.”

Who knew that MBTA “workers” aren’t allowed to sleep on the job?

I thought sleeping on the job was part of the T job description, not just a perk, but a requirement.

Now the T tells us that they’ve fired eight hacks for either sleeping or “not paying attention” on the job.

Finally, we can understand why the state is now having to pay bonuses of thousands of dollars to get new employees to take jobs “on the T.”

All of this is a complete reversal from the MBTA’s past history, when you had to pay a politician, in cash, to actually get “on the T.”

The T used to be a destination no-heavy-lifting retirement home. Not for nothing was it called “Mr. Bulger’s Transportation Authority.”

Remember the old saying about what a job at the T entailed – “Hide and seek for a grand a week.”

Think of the great perks. At the T, you only had to “work” for 23 years. Then you could retire with the full kiss in the mail, in your early 40’s, like at least two of Whitey Bulger’s nephews, as well as a career hack named Rooney.

That 23-year pension grab is gone.

Also, you could work in a “counting room” in Charlestown and stuff as many quarters into your pockets as you could manage to walk out to your car without toppling over.

The counting room is gone.

The MBTA used to have its own power plant, believe it or not, in South Boston. The jobs at the power plant, on First Street, cost more than, say, a bus driver’s job, for obvious reasons.

I heard a bugged conversation once, when the feds were rounding up Whitey’s cocaine dealers. Two of Whitey’s wise guys were discussing what kind of T jobs they wanted. One of them mentioned, yes, a bus driver’s job, which even then were available for short money, maybe $3,000.

“Are you crazy?” the other hood said. “You want the power plant!”

It cost a lot more, but you didn’t have to deal with the hoi polloi, shall we say. It was in Southie, easy walking distance to about a million barrooms. And those were just when you went to work, which was seldom.

Let’s face it, it was a lot easier to grab 40 winks at the power plant than it is to sleep on a bus you’re driving, especially if it’s moving, although we all know most T buses aren’t moving, and are OUT OF OPERATION, just like the rapid-transit lines are the furthest thing from rapid.

After a few years of trashing your liver, if you couldn’t make it to the 23-year mark, you could take a fall, as they put it in the car barns and bus yards. You know how a heart doctor is called a cardiologist, a cancer specialist is an oncologist and so forth.

If you worked at the T and wanted out with a full 72 no-tax disability pension, you went to a specialist either in Southie or Brighton. The T doctors were called “fallologists.” For doctors, it was a lucrative racket, er practice.

When a public agency is as out of control as the MBTA – and it still is, of course – the “workers” tend to get lazy, or even lazier. Your most basic criminal survival instincts begin to atrophy.

I remember covering one of the Quartergate busts, when they dragged a bunch of T dirtballs into Boston Municipal Court for their initial appearances. Everyone, including the local hookers, shoplifters, brawlers etc. who were awaiting their own hearings, was amused by the latest round-up.

So the clerk was reading the charges against one of them, a real fat payroll patriot, and he mentioned something about the penalties. The tubby T worker gasped, grabbed his chest like Fred Sanford and keeled over.

Everybody in the gallery burst out laughing. How sad – that the T hacks were so dumb that they didn’t realize that you don’t “take” a heart attack at your arraignment, you take it at your sentencing.

But again, when you never have to do anything, any time, you invariably get sloppy.

You’ve heard of the “workplace culture?” In Massachusetts, it’s the “sleep-place culture.”

When Mitt Romney was leaving the governorship, they took down some Turnpike employees who were double-dipping at a second hack job, sometimes “working” more than 24 hours a day.

In 1990, one of Whitey’s drug dealers who didn’t have a T job was busted sleeping through his overnight DPW city shift on Frontage Road, before he went to “work” in the morning at the MWRA. He’d been hired by a wife of one of Billy Bulger’s most loyal stooges in the Senate.

After 9/11, there was a brief burst of transparency at Logan Airport. It was discovered that the Massport electricians had what amounted to a makeshift bunkhouse, where the overnight shift snoozed their shift away.

Of course, Massport has become the new MBTA. When it comes to dying and going to heaven for the local hackerama, Logan Airport is what the MBTA power plant on First Street used to be – the ultimate resort destination.

The MBTA used to be Mr. Bulger’s Transportation Authority. Massport is now Mr. Travaglini’s Transportation Authority after the lifelong hack Bobby “Trav” Travaglini. At age 71, Trav is now a bigtime lobbyist after a career trajectory of precinct captain, district city councilor, state senator and finally Senate president.

Even in his dotage, Trav’s got plenty of clout – just ask Gina Fiandaca, who just got whacked as state secretary of transportation.

She’d been tangling with Tom Glynn, another migrant from the T to Massport. When he was chairman of the Massport board, Glynn had taken care of Trav’s, uh, requests.

So when push came to shove, Trav had to side with Glynn, not his lifetime East Boston neighbor Gina. That’s how things go at Massport. It’s the life they’ve chosen, a life of leisure.

You might say, Massport is the new MBTA. I mean, Massport doesn’t need to pay anybody any bonuses to work there, do they? And nobody ever gets busted for sleeping on the job – call it hack omerta.

(Order Howie’s new book, “Paper Boy: Read All About It!” at howiecarrshow.com or amazon.com.)

Join Howie's Mailing List!

You have successfully subscribed!