When I moved to Boston, I read an article in a Boston rag about things that drive Bostonians crazy.
The article “Bad Boston” listed many many things but one thing that leapt out was the complaint that Bostonians are not particularly nice people. They are mean drivers, sullen fellow commuters and generally cold human beings.
So being in Boston for, oh 5 days, I dismissed the article as harsh and overly critical and didn’t think much of it. Afterall, who doesn’t like to bash their hometown a little – “I can knock my hometown but don’t you even dare agree with me!”
But after a particularly nasty episode yesterday at a neighborhood wine store, I’m beginning to see its point.
So there I was at Gordon’s wine store in Waltham for the wine tasting. When I stepped in, there was nobody in the store except for the wine makers and two ladies monopolising the tasting table. As I made my way to the tasting station, this lady waylaid me and started asking for my ID for the tasting.
I handed her my federal ID and she said that wouldn’t be unless I have a state issued ID. Weirdly, she was rather gleeful about that and was about to dismiss me when I promptly fished out my state ID. She stared at it for a few minutes before going off to the cashier to “verify my ID”. I waited for a good 5 mins before she came back to inform me I had to physically show myself to the cashier for her to verify my ID. So I went to the cashier and she asked for my federal ID that was rejected initially and held up my ID to my face and spent another 5 mins scanning the ID against my face .
All in all, it was a very humiliating and surreal experience just to taste some wine. Nothing wrong with asking for my ID, but the whole protracted painful process really irritated me and made me question if they would have done the same if I wasn’t a young Asian male dressed simply in jeans and T-shirt turning up for a wine tasting. If I was white male dressed in business attire, would they have checked my ID so tactlessly?
And really it’s not just this isolated incident. Driving here in Boston is a nightmare, people are impatient, rude and obnoxious. Cashiers are sullen and curt, it’s as if they are working in a labor camp. Taxi drivers are even worse, I was insulted by one when I asked for a receipt because the cab fare was under 10 USD.
People here are slow to smile and many seemed genuinely taken aback when I do my cheery “how are you?” when I buy something, order in restaurants etc
People here can be … rather unpleasant.
So what is it about the east coast? Is all the old money making people all snotty, exclusive and cranky? I don’t know… maybe I’ll find out in the next few months but the image that flashes to my mind now when I now think about Boston is:
Survivor’s Boston Rob! He became the season’s star villain with his manipulative and dishonest ways and his detached self centered persona fits in with my impression of Boston somewhat.
Boston is a beautiful historical city filled with brains and money. Packed with hedge fund sharks, ivy league elites, cutting edge biotech scientists, the constant flow of new and old money creates a steady stream of affluence and priviledge.
Sadly, the people here seems much too aware of that to trully step out of themselves and be nice.