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.

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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!

In Which Uncle Murphy Paid a Visit to the Girl Who Won’t Stop Bragging About Vacation…Which Starts Tomorrow.

And by Uncle Murphy, I mean the writer of Murphy’s Law. The bastard.

So yesterday, I started the morning with my usual dash to the train and had a few missteps. And once I passed those missteps, thought I was home free. So I Facebooked that shit. Because. You know…that’s what I do.

Crazy Commuter Morning


Note to self: Don’t post this shit on Facebook until the next day.

So I made it to the train; piece of cake. Stuff in tow. I sometimes get on the train on the back car and walk all the way to the front car. I like to be one of the first people off the train to avoid the Union Station cattle call. It’s a good thing. Usually.

As I made my way toward the front of the train, I started to unwrap the layers of warmth surrounding my body that were causing me to sweat. The train gets toasty when it’s full of people.

I sat down in the little vestibule like usual (So I don’t have to sit next to loud, annoying smelly people) and typed up my ordeal. As I started to re-layer up, I realized that my sweet Bears hat was missing. Somewhere between Car 137(this is a made up number FYI) and Car 1, I had dropped my warm and cozy hat. With a one-mile walk and a -20 degree windchill to look forward to. Awesome.

It’s okay, Christine (I call myself this, when I’m angry at self.) You’ve got the scarf and the face mask and the hood. It’s all going to be okay.

Winter 1: Chrissy 0

So I went on with my morning routine. Buttoned my coat, snapped my face mask, wrapped up my  sweet 12-foot scarf, slipped my glasses into my pocket and was on my way.

Doctor Who Scarf

Twelve glorious feet of scarf. More on that next week.

As I crossed the street just outside of Union Station, I slipped on a patch of ice. LUCKILY, I am a master of correcting myself so as not to fall. I know. I know. You’ve seen how many sweet spills I’ve taken. From spraining my ankle on a mountain to tripping over invisible wires to walking into No Parking signs…You can’t exactly call me Grace.

So I didn’t fall. Which is good, because if I had, I would have either A. face-planted into Adams street or B. gone backwards into the metal bridge dealie. But I screamed the obnoxious scream that usually scares the crap out of Brian.

Good work, Christine. You really sealed it with that one. It’s okay though. Let’s go find some breakfast.

I walked the cold walk to Pret, where I picked up a tasty little breakfast thingy with bacon (because all that matters is the bacon. Obvi.)

After Pret, it was only 3 blocks to the office, so I was almost there. I checked the time; things looked good.

We’re ready for the day. It won’t be that bad. You’ve got bacon. You can get a hat on your lunch break. Work’s going to fly by. And vacation is in 2 days. You can do it.

I stepped into my office building and started deconstructing my walk-wear. Because I was pretty blind when I walked (the face mask fogs up my glasses), one of the first things I did was pull out my glasses from my sweatpants pocket.

Well.

Part of my glasses anyways.

As I reached in to grab my specks, the motherfuckers cracked. Something about them being frozen and crackable made that the perfect moment to die.

“MOTHERFUCK!”

I’d like to tell you that I just thought that in my head. I really would.

But no. It came out in all it’s obnoxious glory. And the lovely security lady came to check on me, because I was visibly on the verge of a breakdown. She wanted to help. But she couldn’t. There was nothing anyone could do.

Glasses broke in half because of cold

FML. That’s about the end of that.

So I thanked her. And probably apologized, because I do that when I’m upset. And got into the elevator. Alone.

And then…I cried the ugly cry.

It started with a few Claire Danes sniffles and snorts, but then it went full-out bawling. I could NOT win this morning if I tried.

I crawled into my office, trying to hide my eyes, hoping that they were masked by the cold look everyone seemed to be wearing. I found the only secluded place I knew of in the open office and I just let it all out.

Eventually, I had one of my co-workers come rescue me and she even brought my SWEET work slippers. There’s something about sequined camo that makes the world seem just a little bit brighter.

Sequin Camo Slippers

I’m Polish, OK. So stop judging my holiday Minnie Mouse socks and camo slippers.

I was blind for the first half of my day, but picked up a set of contacts (after getting an unnecessary eye exam in order to get the free trial) and ordered some adorably sassy new specks. And then I remembered that vacation was only HOURS away now.

So here we are. 27 hours away from my flight outta this Frozen Tundra and after a week of vacation joy, I’m coming home to a new pair of specks, the Superbowl (Go Peyton! My LOVE!), the Olympics, house-hunting and so much more joy.

See, things can turn around for the better!

Have you ever had one of those days? Where you just can’t seem to catch a break? Tell me about it. No seriously, tell me about it.

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!