now clogging the internet elsewhere

03 January 2006

you're at risk of losing our dollars, CTA!

Background: I am a big supporter of public transportation. While I love Penny, I see a lot of value in a robust public transportation system. I flatly refuse to live in LA at least in part because of the sheer insanity that driving everywhere on a freeway would cause me. (There are other reasons, too numerous to list, but car dependency is seriously one of them.) We even collect public transport maps and post them on our wall as monuments to places we have been! (After all, why buy a knick knack when you can get a cooler graphically designed momento for free?) So despite its recent fare hikes and its minor problems with cleanliness and the general distaste for public transport expressed by all other members of my immediate family, I frequently use the CTA. John, however, does not love public transportation. More specifically, he does not love Chicago's public transportation. In fact, he hates it. He refuses to take buses with me, will only take the el, and engages in a fair amount of whining even about that. So of course, all of my most horrific CTA experiences take place on those rare occasions that I transport publicly with John. Case in point: on the way home from our fabulous Atlanta adventure (we just jetted off on a moment's notice, didn't you hear? It was the social event of the season!) we spent the usual 45 minutes on the blue line, which takes us from the northwest side to the near south where we live. About 5 minutes into the ride, the man in front of us woke up from his nap. This was something I had feared would happen, as the man looked like he had serious potential to be not my favorite el seatmate ever, but ours were the last two forward-facing seats in the car and I get seasick riding backwards so we sat there. Sure enough, as soon as he woke up, he took notice of two pretty young women sitting opposite. And started talking to them. And gesturing. And leering. When someone sitting BEHIND you is able to perceive your leering, subtlety has gone out the window, buddy. Perhaps you should take it down a notch. Anyway, along with the leering there was the talking, which was limited to four phrases, repeated incessently in apparently random combinations: "I might be a pimp!" "I'll eat your pussy for dinner." "Juicy" "Ain't no shame in my game." I, being the rhythmically inclined person that I am, heard a cadence in these repetitions not unlike a DJ Shadow recording, albeit one with a pretty fucked up set of lyrics, and as I listened more to the rhythm than the words, he started to blend in to the background. John is, um, shall we say, less rhythmically inclined, and he seemed unable to block out the lilting slurs. He actually started clenching and releasing a fist, like in a bad movie where you're alerted to the lead character's anger not by any subtle facial expressions, which probably exceed the actor's talents, but by stupid tics like fist grasping. At one point he leaned over to me and said through clenched teeth "this. is. why. i. don't. take. the. el." After half a dozen stops, the women started to gather their things to leave the train, and our unfriendly neighbor stood up and stopped right in the middle of the aisle, as if to block their exit. At this point, in a gesture that positively warmed my heart, my brave, darling, skinny but scrappy husband handed me his bag and half stood up, poised to intervene and allow these ladies to exit. To our surprise, however, the man obligingly stepped aside and let them pass. I could actually feel the air in the car relax a little bit, as everyone had clearly been totally attuned to what was happening but also totally unwilling to put their necks out to do anything about it. Then, as the train doors were closing, the man slid out of the car and started pursuing the unsuspecting women at a good clip. Totally creepy, and those of us in the car were totally powerless to do anything about it. It took John the entire walk back to our building, the ride up the elevator, and two beers to decompress, the whole thing had him so worked up. I'm not sure which is worse: John's total anguish over a sucky situation that he really couldn't have done much about, or my relatively blase attitude about the whole episode. What I DO know for sure is that I'm never getting John to ride the damn CTA ever agian.


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