The story of train nemesis

Today is the second day without my train nemesis. She’s gone forever. I know this because I was listening to her conversation on Monday, as I tend to do in close quarters with strangers, and she told some new guy that she was donezo and then again when she told my favorite conductor. Of course, I had already noticed she was using a ten-ride instead of a monthly, so I was suspicious that she would no longer be a regular.

My relationship with Train Nemesis wasn’t long lived, but important enough that I feel the need to eulogize her existence in my life. 

Riding the metra in Chicago

The backstory: Brian and I take the train together. Since our first train line back in Downers Grove, we’ve always appreciated the double seats that face each other. We usually get a little extra space and we look at look at each other should we decide to converse.

Riding the metra

Occasionally, though, the train will become overcrowded, someone will try to sit down next to me and across from Brian, and I’ll walk away from the seat.

The first time this lady demanded to sit down, I got up and walked away, giving her my seat. Brian says I’ve done this with a smidge of an attitude,  but I am tired and grouchy in the morning. And okay fine, irritated that anyone thinks these four seaters are designed for more than two adults. Also, my mama didn’t teach me the words, “excuse me,” “please,” and “thank you” for nothin’. 

Now, this has happened with a few people prior to and after my first encounter with Train Nemesis. It’s rare, and I just deal with it. Each time, I get up and walk away. Sometimes,  I set in the train vestibule, which I used to do in the mornings back on the Downers Grove line. Sometimes, I sit on the stairs. Sometimes, I’ll just go find another seat. 

It was January 2017 when I realized this lady wasn’t playing. She was miserable, and she was going to enjoy judging the fuck out of me.

She was the ringleader of the ladies who gossip about the horrible girl who gets up and switches seats so she doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or, worse, hurts her back in the process.

The first time I heard her talking about me, Brian was sitting in the seat across from her. She was talking to some other women about me, but I couldn’t quite hear her. According to my intel, she was snottily talking about how I do it all the time and what in the world is wrong with me? How could I possibly expect to not share the seat?

There's no leg room on the metra

Can we talk about the leg room here? How can you possibly expect to share this with four people?

The second time it happened, I had moved two seats back on the train, and I watched her as she spoke about me with such vitriole. She laughed as she thought about me sitting on the stairs and not having a seat, because I was so stupid and didn’t like to share.

I wanted to cry, but I tweeted instead. She was so mean about it, loudly proclaiming what a horrible person I was, that I considered switching trains. But I decided that the next time it happened I would tell her how mean she was behaving. 

And instead of there being a next time, she’s gone. 

Of course, she did have the occasional redeeming qualities. Her sense of holiday style was not unlike the one I plan to exhibit in my sixties.

So here’s to you, Nemesis. You were a meanish lady, but you might sort of be missed on this train, if only for the fodder.

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!

An Open Letter to Metra: The Way to Really Fly

Dear Metra Bigwigs and People Who Make Things Happen,

I have seen you administer surveys, ask questions, and make promises that you have yet to follow through on. In my commuter lifetime, I’ve been a regular on two different Metra rail lines. Both have their pros compared to the other, and both have their cons. But there ARE a few common traits that can be improved upon easily and with little cost. Let me solve your problems.

image

Notification of delays

All you need is a two-way radio on every train (don’t tell me you dont communicate with the main station via radio. And if not, there’s this little invention called a cellular phone that offers easy communication between two people) to regularly update the station as to the delays and estimated arrival times. Then have a person (Hell. You can even have two because there are hundreds of thousands of people looking for work and a couple salaries wouldn’t seem to break the bank considering the number of daily riders on this train I’m currently writing from) to relay this information in writing to the digital platforms you’ve already set up.

Keep the website notifications up to date. You can update the site every 10 minutes; people would be appreciative and might not bitch at or about you quite so much. Checking a notice that was written 25 minutes ago and says tour train will arrive 10 minutes ago when it hasn’t is worthless.

Send e-mails promptly. Most people have to leave for their train 10 to 45 minutes before departure. If there’s a problem that you know about, srnd the e-mail immediately. We signed up for this service for a reason. Help make it worth our while. If I get an e-mail about the delay when I’m already on the train, it was ineffective for me and is likely ineffective for the person at the next stop, 2 minutes away.

Bathroom Cleanliness and Operation

While I’m here, I figured it would be helpful to discuss one of the ongoing problems I’ve noticed. I don’t know how I always seem to need to use the bathroom when there is not one functional bathroom on the train, but it’s true. I know that it’s mostly drunk assholes late at night l, and your staff didn’t clog up the toilet or leave it spraying water from 3 directions (yes, I’ve witnessed this), but the train was hanging out at the station for 25 to 35 minutes prior to departure…would it kill you to hire a cleaning crew between trains (at least the non-commuter trains that operate every hour or 90 minutes)?

I’ll stop here. This is enough to fix for one day.

TL;DR: Hire 2 to 5 people to send notifications and alerts. Hire 10 to 15 people to clean local trains while they’re stopped at the station.

Sincerely,

Just another commuter.

Blog Friends, do you have commuter problems? Public transportation problems? Do you pay a lot of money for a service that doesn’t deliver?

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!