“Chicago’s a real city!”
That’s what I heard a woman exclaim while I was walking to work this morning. Why yes, this is quite a real city. I was just trying to imagine what was going on in her head that made her think otherwise.
I’ve gotten into the rhythm of commuting this summer. Pulling out my CTA card at the last moment without fumbling around in my purse a whole bunch. Picking the optimal seat for a lake view on the ride in. Minimizing the number of awkward stumbles onto people’s laps as the bus lurches forward before I’ve found a spot. Perfecting the art of the one handed hold and remembering to switch arms enough on the 40 minute ride home so it doesn’t go to sleep. Memorizing no less than 3 routes to any direction so I don’t find myself scrambling for directions.
Right at 5 (never happens) but express bus is the best. After 7? Express bus no longer exists and I must make the 4 block trek through tourists and small children to find another route. A seat on that is pretty much non-existant for that and it’s often full of sweaty tourists who have mistakenly packed their day and exhausted themselves. This results in whiny children and adults yelling at each other. Raining? Train then bus – optimized for as little time outside as possible.
I’ve got this down to a science. Except those days when I accidentally hop on the bus forgetting about the sea of people who use Lake Shore Drive as a parking lot. That’s when I just get some quality time squished between two people who apparently have forgotten how to make eye contact. Or get to stand next to the middle-aged man who was playing video games on his phone and is so involved with it that he ends up looking like a 5 year old boy grinning at his screen every time another win occurs. And every once in a while, I’ll get that nice lady who really wants to chat it up. So I sit there and get to hear all about her grandkids and their latest accomplishments and how her daughter’s boyfriend just got a new job and oh, how her cat is feeling a bit sick today. I like those days.
And for those late nights commuting back, when I’m feeling flustered and all I want to do is get back quickly, eat dinner and tumble into bed, I look up and see the poorly designed poster on the ceiling of the bus offering “free meditation classes.” It’s then that I am reminded to enjoy the ride. Commuting is just like watching TV, only better – especially if you’re living in a “real city.”