OyChicago blog

Reflections of a retired serial mover and so-called public transportation expert

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This past weekend, in between going to shul and fasting, I managed to move apartments.  Yet again.  This time it was different—I know I’ve said this before, but I am really done moving.  I have to be.  It’s permanent, because I bought a condo with my boyfriend.  I needed a way to put an end to the madness of moving every year for the past EIGHT years and buying just seemed the way to go.  Plus, the Obama first- time homebuyer tax incentive didn’t hurt either.  I’m officially a retired serial mover.  But this story isn’t really about becoming a home owner.

Even though I’m all moved in, I stayed at my boyfriend’s old place last night since the cable hasn’t been hooked up yet and The Hills was premiering.  I hate staying at Jason’s house during the week because my commute to work on the brown line is double the length.  Plus this particular morning I’d forgotten my book and was definitely not getting a seat.  This left me with plenty of time to think on the long train ride into the city.  I began counting up all the different public transportation routes I’ve taken over the years to get to work—and they are as plentiful as my apartments.

So I’m deep in thought, balancing my body on the now jam-packed train when I keep getting interrupted by the sound of coughing from the girl sitting in the row in front of me.  Now I don’t mean a cough here or there cause “my allergies are bad” or “I’m getting a cold,” I mean “I’m about to die or at least hack up a mucus-filled lung” kind of coughing.  And it didn’t stop the whole way from Southport to Washington/Wells.  Ugh, I’m grossed out all over again just writing this.

Does it really need to be pointed out, that if you’re so sick you can barely stop hacking for 40 minutes straight you probably shouldn’t be on the L?!  For the sake of those around you, stay home in bed so we don’t catch your illness and die too.  And if you have to go into work, can’t you at least take a cab?!  I mean, really.  Sick girl, you didn’t look like a member of the tribe, but if per chance you happen to read this, then please heed my advice and stay off the L when you’re sick.  It’s just not cool.  If I get sick tomorrow because of you, I can guarantee I won’t be riding the L and putting others through my misery.

Sick girl got me thinking about all the nasty, rude, unfortunate experiences I’ve had on the CTA in the past four years—from the Lake Shore Drive buses to the Blue Line, I’ve pretty much ridden them all.  I’m just amazed by the lack of civility people show one another these days.  (I know we’ve got Congressmen yelling at presidents during national addresses in Congress, so I guess I don’t know why I expect anything better, but it still makes me very sad.)

I’ve put together a list of what I consider to be the top 10 pet peeves about riding public transportation.  I borrowed some of these from others’ experiences; feel free to add any of your own to the mix.  My hope is we can all practice following these rules so that when the Chicago Olympics rolls around in 2016 (fingers crossed) and we have a new fangled CTA system (fingers double crossed) we will all know how to behave with proper decorum reflective of our first class city.

1. Don’t get up while the bus or L is in motion and expect someone to let go of the pole because you are in such a rush.  The train or bus will stop and you will have plenty of time to exit.  You don’t need to make someone else fall because you can’t wait.

2. Most people know to give up their seats for a pregnant person (just make sure they are really pregnant) but do people really need to be told not to push pregnant people out of the way so they can board the train faster?  I know someone who was 8½ months pregnant when she was pushed into a snow bank by a man in a hurry to board the train.  Not cool.

3. Walk all the way to the back of the bus!  Don’t just stop at the stairs.

4. Please stop with the inappropriate and loud conversations about how drunk you got on Saturday night or who you went home with, no one wants to hear them especially Monday morning on the way to work.

5. Likewise, try to maintain your personal space with cell phone conversations.  We’re all guilty of it, but just try to not broadcast the results of your latest pap smear to everyone around you.

6. Sometimes shorter people can’t reach the tall handles, switch places with them so they can grab a pole.

7. This one is targeted towards the drivers who won’t wait for you to run to catch the bus even in the dead of winter or even better completely ignore you at the stop and drive right past.

8. Be patient when the back door doesn’t open.  Continually pushing on it won’t make it open any faster it’ll just set the siren off.

9. Be aware of how you smell.  Enough said.

10. Finally, if you’re sick, just stay off the bus!

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