Erratic Ramblings from More Strangers on the Train

It all started on the train with the two women sitting behind me, talking about their kids in baseball. The struggle was real. I was only half paying attention until one of them, let’s call her Lefty, said, “Oh jeepers.”

snort

I knew it was time to pull out my phone and document snippets of this conversation,because I know y’all love it when I eavesdrop.

Then Righty says, “Then, I watched The Nerds. You know, After the Thrones. They’re all SO nerdy! They think they’re so cool. But they’re such nerds.”

I don’t think Baseball Mom got the memo, that it’s hip to be a square these days…Even my mom (who was a cool girl) thinks the Big Bang gang is cool.

Lefty jumps back in with, “Did I ever tell you what Brett’s final grade was? He got an A. And she still wanted him to take it again. He told me, ‘She still says I don’t know the concepts.'”

Coming from a recovering teacher, I can attest to how hard it is not to pass students with Cs and Ds, but if they don’t understand the concepts, how the hell do they get As?

Righty, apparently checking her phone, “My email is full. It says delete some files and try again.  What Files!?”

Lefty was only half listening, because then she chimed in with, “I had 1,099 texts. From you from two years!”

A few minutes later, Righty was back on Game of Thrones, “I hope Danerys and whatsher face hook up. Yara? Maybe he’ll become an unsullied. What’s his face? He’s halfway there. Poor thing. He did betray his fam – his…Starks. When is Danerys going to find out all this stuff?”

Then they rambled some more about baseball and kids…

Righty was all, “What’s an Ethel Merman?”

And Lefty replied, “It’s German.”

Righty responded with “I have such a hard time visualizing things…”

snort

I couldn’t help it.

Then Righty starts singing, “Do you, do you want my love?” Followed by a whistle.

Lefty said something quiet enough for me to miss, and Righty quipped back, “It’s cuz I’m fancy. Fancy Nancy.”

I wish I was making all if this up. But it’s 100% real life.

Then Lefty says something like, “I’m sorry that you almost died but…I’m really glad I swim. It helps me!”

Righty dramatically reiterates, “I would have died.  I would literally have died.”

Ummm…okay, Righty. Glad you didn’t die or anything.

Conversations overheard on the train...and the Snapchats that shame them.

Conversations overheard on the train…and the Snapchats that shame them.

I  tried to turn them off, but then Righty said, “I’m like your lady’s maid.”

Lefty, realizing this was a brillz idea, responded, “I need a lady’s maid!”

“Doesn’t everybody.”

Well, actually…maybe?

And then they started talking about their appearances.

Lefty was all, “You don’t have football shoulders.”

Righty knows a good life when she sees it…”Thank GOD I don’t have football shoulders.”

“I do and it sucks.”

Poor Lefty with her football shoulders.

And then Righty starts singing again, “Do you do you want my love?”

And scene.

You know, commuting on the train is almost as entertaining as watching one of my favorite binge watches on Netflix. Everyone is a character in this world. Everyone. I get a glimpse into their lives, just like the tiny Carrie Bradshaw I’m currently obsessing over in The Carrie Diaries. Or the crazy awesome kids in the weird AF town on Stranger Things. Or my favorite office culture on 30 Rock.

What characters do you love to watch?

Netflix Stream Team

This post was brought to you by my friends at Netflix, who provided me, as a member of the Stream Team, with a year of Netflix, a device on which to watch it, and this month, a freaking awesome harmonica to play with. All opinions and words are mine.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How to be a Responsible Irresponsible Adult on a Daily Train Commute

This morning,  as the conductor was collecting tickets on the train,  he stood impatiently beside our seat.

“Ticket!” I could almost hear him stomp his feet.

I cried out, “Oh!” because I was busy reading the Monday morning Facebook report.  I reached to dig through my sweet hot pink mini backpack and grab my ticket as Brian reached into his pocket. The conductor looked directly at me, his face and tone warmer, “No, you’re  fine.” And he waited for Brian to display  evidence that he belongs on this train.

Brian scoffed at me as I giggled. Actually, I’m pretty sure he also shook his head in utter disgust. He hates that this happens. Because it also means when I’m  careless and forget my Metra pass, or I forget to switch to the next month’s ticket…the conductors don’t make me buy a ticket.

How to be a responsible irresponsible adult on a daily train commuteHe says this is propagating my bad behavior. I call it  relationship building. On our old train line, I made friends in the morning. I had a group of train buddies who all hung out in the same vestibule of the front car. We all laughed and joked with the conductor, and he never even looked at our passes, save a couple times a month or so to ensure we had monthly passes.

When we lived in the apartment, we were on a different train line than we are now. Usually, Brian wasn’t on the morning train with me. He would drop me off so I could get on an earlier train, park the car, and take the next train into the city. Basically, Brian’s  a fucking saint. We still use that system sometimes for our new train line if we’re running late, but he often gets on the same morning train as me.

On the old line, we took the same train home every night as well, and our conductor was amazing.  We were even on a first name basis with him, and he would stop and chat with us for 10-15 minutes every day. When we went to Florida, I even bought him back some cool rocks I found on the beach because he collected them.

Here, we’re still the newbies.

But I sit in the same seat every day. And I smile at the conductor.  I say “good morning.” Apparently,  that can go a long way.

So when I forget to bring my new monthly pass, or I switch purses, I don’t have to come up with $9.75. Or spend 20 minutes trying to prove I already pay $150/month to get to work. Because they know me.

And that makes me smile.

Even if it pisses Brian off when I’m  irresponsible and forgetful.

Do you have a daily routine in which you interact with the same people? Is there someone who knows your morning  coffee order? What’s your daily commute like?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Meet the McSmoky Triple Cheese Burger – My McDonald’s Create Your Taste

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to take my pal Cletus over to a McDonald’s near-ish me in Downers Grove. We used to live in Downers Grove, so this was near and dear to me. They closed the McDonald’s that I knew and loved, and opened a new one a mile down the road. And this new McD’s was special.

KioskThe first of its kind in Illinois, the Create Your Taste menu offers a build-your-own burger feature. When Cletus and I walked into the McD’s we were greeted by one of the many helpful team members, who showed us how to operate the order menu screen.

Building my own sammy in DG at @Mcdonalds #MyPerfectSandwich ##McDPtr

A video posted by Quirky Chrissy (@quirkychrissy) on

With so many menu options to choose from, I could make whatever burger I wanted.

And I wanted all the cheese.

The menu boasts three different cheese options including a pepper jack, white cheddar and the traditional American.

Now, I’m not a big fan of American cheese in a lot of circumstances, but there are some food stuffs that are classic and nostalgic and exactly what  I want…and a cheese burger with American cheese is one of them.

Cheese

Of course, I clicked the buttons for all three cheeses on my burger.

How many burger patties? I only need one. I’ve already got cheese, cheese, and cheese.

What type of bun? I want the artisan roll – it’s the most like the original bun.

Add Bacon

Add bacon for a small charge? Yep. Definitely.

What sauce did I want? Oh, I’m thinkin’ the sweet barbeque (which is actually sweet and smoky).

What extras? Let’s go with pickles, lettuce and red onion for the win.

Fries? Oh heck yes.

When it was Cletus’ turn to order, he opted for a specialty build, instead of his own creation.

Build Your BurgerThe Hot All Over had pepper jack cheese and jalapenos, and was an obvious win for Cletus, though he was disappointed that he couldn’t find pineapple on the menu.

Specialty BurgersWhen a team member delivered our food a little less than 10 minutes later, he was SUPER helpful, offering to bring me extra BBQ sauce and ketchup. The fries were OMG served in the CUTEST little fry baskets, making this a serious happy lunch hour for this girl.

Fry basketI may have already eaten half the fries by the time I remembered to take the picture. Don’t hate.

McSmokyAnd of course, the piece de resistance. The McSmoky Triple Cheese Burger. The cheeses melted together in a magical cheesy burger land. The smoky BBQ added a rich flavor and the rest of the ingredients were exactly what I wanted on my burger. Thanks McDonald’s! This was delish.

Create your taste

The giveaway has ended, but I’m still curious…

What burger toppings would you put on your dream burger (and while pineapple is not currently on the menu at McD’s, you’re free to suggest it as a dream burger topping for your sammy Cletus’ orders)?

This post was created in partnership with McDonald’s. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Get Where You’re Getting With Curb

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Curb. I received a promotional code to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I love it when an app makes my life easier. I love it even more when it involves me not having to walk a mile in my shoes or anyone else’s.

Curb_RGB

In case you were unaware, I live in suburbia and work in downtown Chicago. The Loop. Smack dab in the middle of everything awesome. And about a mile away from the train that brings me in and out of this beautiful city.

Curb, formerly known as Taxi Magic, is a super useful app that helps you get a cab when you need it. I’ve been using Curb, and their network of more than 4,000 taxis in Chicago, for several weeks and I’m never looking back. The drivers are licensed, commercially insured and have all completed thorough background checks. That’s a program I can stand behind.

In the past, I would hope and pray a taxi would show up where I needed it, when I needed it, and more often than not, cabs driving by were already full with people (the perks of working two blocks away from one of the biggest Chicago tourist traps – Millennium Park). When I’m in a hurry, I want to know that a cab is going to be there when I need it. Especially if I’m trying to make a train. Cue Curb, where I can order a cab to pick me up now or plan for later! The process is simple and made my life so. much. easier.

App_Map

Recent occurrences when Curb has been a lifesaver or just plain convenient:

  • When my train was 30 minutes late getting into the city. I was only 15 minutes late for work.
  • When I left work just a few minutes late. (I have my walk time scheduled to a TEE. Any later, and I’m usually out of luck.)
  • When I met Brian for drinks in River North after work.
  • When Brian and I left the aforementioned bar and went to an event hosted by my website host. I love them.

I have yet to plan my next Curb adventure in advance, but I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl. As if you didn’t already know. You can get started with Curb, and as an added bonus for you, my lovely readers, you can get $15 dollars off your first ride! Just use the code: CurbMom14 To use this code, download the Curb app on your Android or iOS phone. Then, follow these instructions:

  • Open the Curb app
  • Tap the gear symbol in the top right corner
  • Tap “Promos and Credits” on the dropdown menu
  • Enter your code and tap the “enter” key on your keyboard
  • After entering the code, $15 will appear on your “Promos and Credits” screen.
  • Full details on using the Curb coupon code can be found here:http://bit.ly/1CnLGVc 

Do you take cabs anywhere? When? How do you call for cabs? Have you used Curb or as its previous name, TaxiMagic? Will you? Tell me all your secrets.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The 4 People on the Train That I Didn’t Miss While Working From Home

The Friday before Christmas was my last day in the office. I worked from home for 5 days (Christmas and New Year’s Day were holidays and I took Christmas Eve off). I resumed the daily commute yesterday morning in blizzard conditions.

Figures.

As I was riding the train though, I realized that there are people that I vehemently despise. People that, whatever they do, irk the shit out of me.

In no particular order, here’s to them:

Chatty Kathys

This woman is nice enough…but damn can she talk. Whether she’s on the phone from 7:42 am until 8:09 am or chatting it up with someone who is trying to walk away, she does. not. shut. up. I don’t know where she gets the energy, but even I can’t handle it that early in the morning. I just want to read my Nook or troll through Facebook. Quietly.

Suburban Tourists

When I say suburban tourists, I mean tourists who live in suburbia and only take the train for special occasions. Whether they’re riding in on my morning commute or following me home, they never cease to piss me the fuck off. They talk on the quiet car. They’re loud. They’re rude. They never have their tickets ready. They don’t even understand why they’re being charged an extra $2 for not buying their ticket at the station. Jerks.

Headphone Abusers

These people are also found in the elevator and other close-quarter locations where you can hear their music, audiobook or phone conversation perfectly clear. So perfectly clear that you may as well be a part of the damn conversation. I don’t care that Cheryl’s boyfriend is in jail. I don’t want to listen to the latest romance novel. I don’t want to jam out to your country or rap…and I don’t expect you to enjoy my 90’s party pop or to want to hear about my most recent run in with the ground. Let’s turn the volume down, eh?

Smelly People

This can go either way. Sometimes these are the people who don’t shower or they sit next to you with bad breath…and start talking. OR they’ve DOUSED themselves in some type of perfume that they think smells wonderful…and really they’re giving me a headache. Here’s a tip: Don’t spritz on the scents right before you get on the train. Wait until you’re not surrounded by people in a tiny space.  And shower. Please. Please. Please. Shower.

I am well aware of the fact that I have my own set of pitfalls that do not fall on this list. I’m sure I piss people off too. What are some of your pet peeves when it comes to your daily commute? If you don’t commute, what are some pet peeves in your daily existence?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

BlogHer in Chicago: How to Make Nice with the Natives (Commuters)

Guys, I’m SO excited for BlogHer. I KNOW you are too. Even if you’re not going, you can participate via your computer chair, your couch, your bed or naked on a bearskin rug in front of YOUR fireplace (I don’t want to see that shit.) But let me tell you a little secret. Most of Chicago…wait for it…

Doesn’t know you’re coming.

In fact, they probably don’t care. (I care. And my bloggy friends care. And you care. And YOUR bloggy friends care. And all of the lovely sponsors care. But, we have to be real about this.) Chicago is one of the major cities in this beautiful country of ours, and thus hosts fancy conferences more often than we attend them. More often than we would ever WANT to attend them. So you’ve got to understand that the locals (or natives) will just see us (yes, me too) as touristy conference people interrupting their daily routine. But we can avoid all that nasty nonsense.

I’m going to guide you through the life of a commuter and give you a few pointers on how to make them not hate you.

Between the hours of 6 and 9 am & 3 and 7 pm, public transportation (particularly the commuter transportation (Metra – Union Station and Metra – Ogilvie Transportation Center) is a circus. Walking near, to or from one of these hubs is going to be difficult at best and downright painful at worst. If you’ve got rolling luggage, just do everyone (yourself included) a favor and take a cab. That’s what I’ll be doing when I head into work with my luggage on Thursday morning. NEVER walk against the grain of traffic. Cross the street and avoid this:

train commuters train commuters

 

 

 

 

train commuters train commuters

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re riding one of these commuter trains, it’s important to follow the rules of etiquette on the Metra.

The rules of walking traffic are the same as driving. Walk on the right side of the walkway. Pass on the left. If you’re walking slow, stay as far to the right as possible. If you’re on an escalator…FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, stand on the right and walk on the left.

Also in relation to walking…we follow one golden rule: As a pedestrian, it is illegal for a car to hit me. So we play the daily Frogger.

But we're not this stupid. Image: from New York Daily News article in which some guy played Frogger and got hit.

But we’re not this stupid. Image: from a New York Daily News article discussing some guy who played Frogger and got hit.

If you’re driving, steer clear of driving through yellow lights, and you’ll be fine. We’re trained to walk the minute your light turns yellow.And sometimes we cross on a diagonal, so just be cautious.

I’ve told you about bringing an umbrella…but there’s an etiquette for carrying umbrellas amidst the commuters and the city-natives. If you have the largest umbrella on the block, and you’re walking past someone, lift that shit up. As high as you can. Knocking into people isn’t nice. If you’ve got a smaller umbrella, tilt to the side or lower it to your head. Be nice to people and they’ll be nice to you.

When you travel, how do you interact with the locals? If you’re a local, what tips would you give tourists?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!