Going, Going, Gone


“Hamilton-Wenham! Next stop, Ipswich!”

Ladies and gentlemen, as our Hamilton-Wenham passengers step daintily off the train — (Oops! Excuse me. Didn’t mean to get in the way of your jodhpurs!) — I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for utilizing the Newburyport arm of the Newburyport-Rockport Line of the MBTA’s commuter rail service. We trust you’ve had a comfortable ride up from North Station, or Salem, or one of those other towns down there.

I’d like to speak briefly to our Ipswich-bound passengers in particular. I hope you remaining Rowley and Newburyport passengers will bear with me for just a moment. This is really a message for folks planning to get off the train at our next stop, which is Ipswich Station.

As a service to you, our highly valued Ipswich-bound passengers, we want to be sure we provide all the information you need in order to arrive comfortably in Ipswich. Here’s the main thing: We recommend that you use the restroom here on the train, before we get there. The point being: There are no public restrooms at Ipswich Station.

In fact, Ipswich Station is not really much of a “station” at all. Like the train stations in many North Shore towns, it’s actually a curved slab of concrete alongside the tracks, with a big rain-roof standing on poles, a few hard benches, and a newspaper vending machine or two. There is no enclosed structure, you understand. (Which certainly means no public restroom facility. If they’re not going to build an enclosed train station, they’re sure as heck not going to build an enclosed restroom; I mean, that’s just logical, right?)

Certainly we hope you will feel free to take full advantage of our lovely and spacious free restrooms right here on your friendly MBTA train. You’ll actually find that restrooms are a beautiful feature of any and all of our MBTA commuter rail cars, provided the rail car was built in 1987, 1988, 2005, or 2012. If you happen to find yourself in a car built in other years, we apologize for any incontinence — er, uh, inconvenience. (Sorry for the no-bathroom train cars; I guess that’s just how the politics were, in those years when train-restroom funds were being appropriated, or vetoed, or filibustered, or perhaps traded away for votes on other, more important bills, like the ban on tattoos, or Sunday liquor sales before noon.)

Your friends here at the MBTA recognize that some passengers may prefer not to use the restrooms on the train, because of — in the case of our male passengers — the inevitable jostling of the train during the actual, uh, release function; and/or perhaps, regardless of your gender, you feel queasy about the whole idea of doing your business in a metal cubicle where similar business has already been done by thousands of strangers on similar train trips; plus, afterward, you can’t help but wonder where your business goes post-flush, and when, and how (since, after all, you’re moving, rather rapidly, over train tracks), and you can’t stop thinking about it.

So, dear Ipswich-bound passengers, as we approach Ipswich Station, if you still need to go to the bathroom but you’ve decided to wait, we here at the MBTA would like to give you a few helpful pointers, to keep in mind after you de-train at Ipswich Station:

  1. Public urination is illegal.
  2. Just because there is no public restroom facility at Ipswich Station, you should not get your hopes up for a porta-potty. There are no porta-potties at, adjacent to, near, or within a stone’s throw of, Ipswich Station. There could be — it doesn’t cost much to hire a porta-potty company to put a porta-potty anywhere — construction companies do it all the time. But the Town of Ipswich has wisely determined that if you got off the commuter rail line at Ipswich Station and saw a line of porta-potties, you would be horrified by the tackiness. Unless, of course, they were historically accurate porta-potties. The kind of porta-potties they used in the early 1700s. In that case, it would be OK.

(Plus, to be fair, they’ve tried porta-potties in the past, with tragic results. Porta-potties have been set on fire, and tossed in the river, not necessarily in that order, and not as part of Ipswich Illuminated. It seems that porta-potties somehow bring out the worst in the Ipswich Vandals & Hooligans demographic. Repeatedly replacing porta-potties? Pricey.)

  1. When you leave the train at Ipswich Station, you will naturally head down Market Street. Please note that most of these businesses do not offer public restrooms. If you visit an eating or drinking establishment, you will likely find a restroom available. But if you’re buying insurance, having your eyes examined, or purchasing a clever Ipswich-themed fridge magnet, you may just have to hold it.
  2. There is a free public restroom inside the Visitor Center, which you can use without eating, drinking, or buying anything anywhere in the Town of Ipswich. The Visitor Center is only a quarter-mile from the train station, the first 80% of which is downhill. If you happen to have brought your bicycle on the train with you today, you’ll have no trouble gliding down to Five Corners; keep your momentum up, hang a right at the Pub, coast up over the Choate Bridge. You’ll find the Visitor Center — and sweet relief — on your left.

You’ll also be happy to know that the MBTA hopes to announce, very soon, a lending program which will make skateboards available to our commuter rail passengers leaving the train at Ipswich Station. We couldn’t afford bicycles, but we trust that your skateboard will get you, just as quickly, to where you need to go. So to speak.

Please note that the Ipswich Visitor Center restroom is often overwhelmed, sometimes better attended than the art shows in the next room. So we would ask that you please be patient with the others in line. It is not technically against the law, but it is regarded as somewhat vulgar, to offer cash to the people ahead of you.

What? Oh, excuse me, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize. Ladies and gentlemen, let me correct myself. The Ipswich Visitor Center is closed for the season.

“Ipswich! Next stop, Rowley!”

Thank you for your attention, and good luck.


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