The only blot on Tuesday nights “Tweet-Up”: my trek to Arlington after the obligatory eats and drinks at The Sunset. I live in the Heights, only about 13 or so miles as the crow flies from the Hub, but when you are as dependent on the T as I am, it at times can feel like eighty.
The 62 bus had hours before made its last run by the time I arrived at Alewife, and I was apprehensive as I approached the queued cabs. It was my experience that the drivers on this route were more then a tad stoic. Conversation was always of the clock loudly tolling the passing hours away in the background variety. Forced, clipped, awkward … interminably slow.
After entering the taxi first in line and announcing my destination, the standard flailing around for something—anything—to break the ice was blessedly cut short by a familiar voice up front. Squinting, I could just make out “90.9” traced in luminous green on the darkened dash. Yes! An opening.
I proudly announce my association with WBUR.
The statue in the driver’s seat springs to life. “The best station in the country,” he proclaims, not skipping a beat.
Arnold, who lives in Woburn, is a tune the dial to 90.9 and rip the knob off kind of listener, and a big Tom Ashbrook fan. It’s the On Point host’s directness he respects. That uncanny ability to cut to the nub of an issue, and the adroitness in keeping conversation flowing while demanding callers and guests—left, right, or center—do the same.
The cab swerves when Arnold, rapturously engrossed in his discourse on public radio and the media in general, experiences a momentary mental lapse, confusing exits on what must be one of his better trod routes. He also takes me two blocks past my house. I don’t bother correcting him. He is on a roll.
His analysis veers into public perceptions of Hillary Clinton. Five minutes in I cut him off. He could have easily gone on for 10 or 20 minutes—or more.
I shake his hand and exit the cab.
I am still pondering my encounter with this cabby from Woburn who works the night shift and is a refreshing counterweight to those latte-smothered stereotypes about public radio listeners bandied about in some quarters.
Thanks for listening, Arnold!
That’s my story.
What’s yours? Has there been a particularly interesting encounter or experience that public radio sparked in your life? Any “driveway moments” you care to share? Post them below or here or “Tweet” them.
Utterli users, record your response and I will make sure to embed it here as well as on wbur.org.