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!

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!