Friday, April 13, 2018

April Challenge -- Day 13

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Your commute to/from work

My commute is always eventful.

I take the CTA Green Line to and from the office each day. I get on at the second stop and get off at the sixteenth stop. The ride itself takes about 30 minutes and is always revelatory.

The first two stops take me through my village. It's always fun to see who gets on with me. One recent day there was a mom with a toddler girl who was so excited to "ride Thomas" that she actually, literally, jumped up and down and clapped her hands as the train approached. I felt privileged to be there for one of her first train rides. This week I rode with members of my local high school's swim team. Their conversation amused me. They do not find Mark Zuckerberg, or this Facebook transit poster campaign, impressive. I recall snickering and the word "douche." I was also impressed by how often one of the boys talked about his father, who takes this train to work every day. That kid is very proud of his lawyer dad.

The next nine stops are the ones you hear about on the news, as it takes me through the high crime area. I know this part of the journey turns a lot of people off, and I can see why. Many of the young people who get on and off at these stops are intimidating, behaving badly and almost daring the rest of us to say something, and no one ever does. (After all, littering or very loud music is not worth an altercation.) But it also teaches me a great deal about people who live just minutes away from my home. I find the women, especially, interesting and inspiring. They're almost all going to work. I can tell from their clothes and snatches of conversation that they are nail techs, fast food restaurant workers, and drugstore counter girls. Some of the younger ones -- and they are very young -- are trying to negotiate the commute with babies in umbrella strollers. I always wonder how much of their paycheck is left after they pay for daycare. Just Friday night, two of the women were talking about a friend of theirs who came home to find a burglar in her home. The community college students get on at these stops, too. I can tell by the textbooks.

The last five stops are downtown. I go through the up-and-coming River North area, and ride over the Chicago River itself. It never fails to amaze me that I am riding rails that were built high above a major river. Then into the financial district and The Loop. I get off at State/Lake. You can see the stairs I climb and descend way in the back of this photo. I realize that every day, twice a day, I pass an iconic marquee that tourists go out of their way to see and photograph.

I am lucky that I have another transportation option. After 7:00 PM, I do not ride the Green Line. It's simply not safe for a short, fat old lady traveling alone. Then I take the Metra commuter train. It's more expensive and runs on a more regimented scheduled. But on the upside, it goes directly from River North to my neighborhood without stopping.

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