As you may have read in my last post CHICAGO TAXI CABS, I have not had a car since 1995. This makes me extremely grateful for the CTA and my Chicago Transit card. The Chicago Transit Card lends comfort, luxury and ease. I hop right onto the bus, no waiting in lines with the masses who are trying to board. When I go down to the subway, I see people without their transit cards stumbling around with singles and change, I giggle. I simply pull out my magic Transit Card, swipe the card and the gates open. The card automatically reloads from my checking acct when it has fallen below a certain amount and I am ready to ride.
On most days, if I am not walking, I take the bus, but on rare occasions the "el" is more convenient. Today is one of those days where I have to ride the "el" - the Red Line south, transfer to the Green Line west. Every time I arrive in a subway station I am reminded of the same two things.
In grad school, I would get out of class at 9:00 p.m. and there are not that many trains that run at that hour. I'd arrive at the station and I could hear the sounds of a train echoing in the distance of the tunnel. I never knew if it was a north bound or a south bound train but either way, I would race down those stairs because missing my train meant a long wait until the next train car arrived.
The second thing I always think of is my brother's former co-worker. My brother works in IT and most updates to computer systems are handled after employees go home. My brother's co-worker was one of those guys. He was working late at night, until about 11pm, in the Loop. He left work and headed to the Red Line. As he was coming down those stairs, probably as quickly as I had as a grad student, a man was waiting for him at the bottom of the stairs with a baseball bat. As soon as he reached the bottom step, before he could see what was around the corner, the man swung the bat and shattered his face.
My brother's co-worker has had several surgeries over the past 10 years. The man who swung that bat got away with a backpack filled with his lunch and a wallet with no more than $5.00. He was never caught.