Pretty Far From OK

This weekend I decided to take a walk to one of my favorite restaurants. I knew the Parish Cafe wasn’t open but it’s a good walk and I haven’t been down Boylston since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I was completely saddened and disheartened by what I saw. We are pretty far from OK and nowhere near great as a city, country, or society.

As I walked passed Fenway and into the Back Bay area the police riot offices, which I have become accustomed to seeing in the neighborhood recently, started to become less. Then I noticed why. Security of Boylston street wasn’t assigned to them. I saw a couple of national guards on the corner by Dillon’s bar, wearing army fatigues, dark berets, and clearly armed. I wasn’t sure if it was just those two at first, but then I saw they were stationed at every other block.

I socially distanced walked by many people, including some wearing masks and some note. I wouldn’t say there were a lot of people out. My walking pace was quicker because I was not slowed by the bustle of people shopping at all the stores.

Most places were closed and many were boarded up. Some clearly had been vandalized. I never would have expected these restaurants and offices to be so shutdown. Years ago seeing a place on Boylston boarding up would have been rare, but nothing to pay particular notice to. Now I see the sight of most of them boarding up and many in jeopardy of ever reopening.

Trader Joe’s was one of the few signs of life. Still, I couldn’t look there without the sad feeling coming over me. I line of at least a dozen people waited to get into the store. This scene reminds me of what I would expect from poorer countries or what I remember seeing on the news as the Soviet Union collapsed.

Before I knew it I was standing in front of Parish Cafe. Chairs and tables tipped over on the patio and the window and door completely boarded. I wondering if there were broken glass and destruction behind those boards.

I couldn’t stay long. I turned around and began to cross the street, but stopped as a number of state troopers rode by one motor cycles. I stopped and waited. The homeless person across the street paid no mind to their presence. He got up from his bed in the doorway of the Men’s Warehouse and walked a few steps, pulled down his pants and relieved himself on the boarded-up door of an office building.

I crossed the street diagonally away from him and another odd fellow on a few doors around. Thankfully, walking in the street was easier than usual with less traffic.

The only signs of good were a group of people drawing and writing on a mural and a couple picking up trash along the street.

We are pretty far from OK right now.