It's kind of a given that you don't ride the subway for the experience. If the faces on your typical MBTA rider are any indication, it's a mundane experience at best: people stare into space, jostle amongst each other, and generally appear to wish they were anywhere but in the cavernous depths of a monotonous, clattering tunnel.
We changed all that for an afternoon. Gathering an enthusiastic group of dedicated BostonSOSers who opened their top shelf and dressed to the nines, our mission was to create a unique, pleasant, first class subway experience.
There were butlers and maids who made sure the cars were in tip-top shape: wiping down seats, cleaning the windows and support rails, and dusting those hard-to-reach corners. Keeping an attentive eye to the surprised passengers, they also offered hot towels, platters of hors d'oeuvres, magazines, shoe shines, and even a full-service coat check so passengers could shed a layer, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
The pièce-de-résistance of this spectacle: live musicians who provided pleasant ambience to the weary passengers: a piano crooner (taking requests!) in one car and a classical string duo in another.
So, without further ado, let's hop on the subway and take a closer look at the experience through pictures:
Our meeting place was Alewife Station, the northern terminus of the Red Line. Here, we went over the basics of what we'd be doing...it should be noted that a few of us remained in "plainclothes" to serve as audience plants who would act as ordinary passengers (we thought it might help build the illusion...plus, it allowed us to take pictures without giving too much away).
Our musicians took some time to warm up, and plan their attack, too.
The butlers, primed for their duties to serve, hand and foot.
And onto the subway, to grace the passengers with our pleasantries...
The butlers handed out magazines for passengers to enjoy...
...and offered platters of snacks.
Individually wrapped chocolate mints were plentiful...
...and of course, a gold-plated box of sanitary wipes for the passengers' hygienic convenience.
Now, look at the face of the passenger in the above photo. It's almost like she doesn't feel the need for a sanitary wipe. That, of course, is because our attendants kept the trains in sparkling, pristine shape:
Meanwhile, as our attendants dutifully cleaned and wiped the cars' interiors, our musicians behind them filled the air with lilting, soothing melodies:
Above, we have a cellist and a violinist who graced the passengers with classical tunes...
...while in another car, a pianist drew applause from the passengers.
But since it's hard for musicians to perform in a moving subway, our butlers didn't miss a beat: they were quick to jump to the occasion and hold up sheet music.
Not everyone took up the offer of a free coat check (although it should be noted we did get some takers).
Butlers also greeted passengers and, if desired, showed them to their seats.
Now that's the face of a man who's never been given free magazines from a butler on the subway.
Some passengers tried to give the butlers tips, which they politely refused.
I think we can say that our experiment was a first class success! Of course, in true BostonSOS fashion, the craziness didn't stop there. Once we gave subway passengers their fill, we gathered ourselves and moved on to another public space to surprise a whole new audience with their own first class experience.
But that's a whole other chapter...
...do you want to, perhaps, read about it?