Breaching Boston: On accidental ethnomethodology

I was in Boston, MA a week or so ago for the meetings of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. It was a good meeting, but it was in a part of Boston where I’d not previously spent any time. The Westin Waterfront is near the Boston Convention and Exposition Center, in the Seaport District. While there are some good dining options on the water, I wasn’t aware of that on the first day of the meetings. So, at lunch I decided to walk out and see what I could find. I started walking west on Summer street, not toward the water, but toward South Station because I figured there would be food in that area. As I crossed the “Fort Point” Channel, I came to a large building with floor to ceiling windows on the first floor. Inside, there were a lot of people standing in line at a number of different counters. It was a food court, and I wanted food. So, in I went. 

As I entered, I could see from the business attire that most were wearing that this was a largely professional crowd. Fortunately, I’d just given a paper, and looked pretty professional (for me). I was in khakis and button down shirt, which is about as put-together as I ever look. I started slowly walking through this food court to see what my options were. The lines were long, it was just a few minutes after noon, and the rush of people made it a bit difficult to see what was available. As I made my way through, I noticed that there were reception desks between this open food court area and the elevators to the rest of the building. I didn’t think much beyond “this must be an office building” and I kept walking to check out the options further down this lobby area.

Then, however, I hear someone yelling “excuse me, sir. Sir. Sir!” I looked over to see that a guy behind one of the desks was talking to me.  (more…)