Homeward Bound Through Cambridge

Here it is, my first day on the train with my new laptop. I’m heading home, it’s 4pm and the train just left North Station in Boston. This is pretty cool to be able to sit here and write and take advantage of the WI-FI connection now being offered on the trains in Boston. A nice perk!

The beauty of being able to write on the way home versus writing on the train coming in to town in the morning is no one is looking over my shoulder at what I’m doing. There aren’t as many people on the home bound train that I take – most take the two trains after mine. On the way home I can stretch out a bit and relax. This morning I had to share a seat with two other people – when the other people sat down it was immediately time to put my laptop away. Drag. Things got too cramped.

We’re at the first stop on the way home – Porter Square in Cambridge. If you know anything about Cambridge, you could guess this is one of the more interesting stops for this train. Cambridge features two unique distinctions – it has more colleges and universities per capita than any other U.S. city and it has an unusually high number of technical businesses within its boundaries. It’s the home of Harvard, MIT and many other high profile institutions. Internet and software companies are everywhere here.

Combine the two types of people that would attend progressive, world-class universities with the geeks that power the Internet and software industry and you can imagine the people you see board and exit the train here. Some days it can be a real freak show when you see some of the clothing and hair styles that exist here. I don’t see much tattoo work, but the body piercing on display can be pretty intense. I’ve seen some people that have so many piercings you lose count of them before you’re even done with the first ear or the upper lip. It’s almost as if Cambridge as a city is its own circus with those who live and work there being the performers.

The demographics for the Cambridge stop are top-heavy with Asians, mostly dudes. White females are probably next with the minority being white, American guys. But you can bet you get a fair sampling of our youth culture here in Cambridge. These people are on the move. Geeks, what used to be called yuppies, and freaks make up this crowd. Generations Y, X and even a few Z’s are represented here and every one of them is tied to their technical gadgets like they are physically connected to them with rivets and chains. Ah yes, even more piercings.

Cambridge is one of only two stops for this train, the other being North Station in Boston, where the train intersects with the Boston subway system. Many people jump right from the train to the subway, taking their travels underground into the oldest subway system in America. It’s not all that pretty but you get to where you’re going. For the people who come and go from Cambridge, it seems fitting that they have the option of going one step further than the rest of us. After all, these people are the movers and shapers of the technical, progressive world we live in. And although they may appear to be some sort of strange breed from outer space, our world would miss them dearly if they weren’t here.

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