Jan. 4th, 2014 08:02 pm

Cosseting

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I thought I would get the last seasonal gift in with the cardigan for [livejournal.com profile] monshu that finally arrived in the mail yesterday, but the privilege was his due to a downtown shopping expedition today. Someday, when I finally stop begrudging myself the money to pay a shrink, I will find out why exactly I have such a goddamn hard time buying myself anything which costs more than about $25. On the ride back I blamed my mother, but that can't be the whole story since my siblings don't seem to be similarly afflicted. In any case, thanks to the Old Man's patience and generosity, I know have five new shirts in a reasonable array of styles. I promised to let this spur me to weed the closet, but the moment I set foot in it I weakened. Maybe I'll feel differently tomorrow.

Speaking of the ride, we had such unbelievable CTA karma that I worry we've blown our allotment for the month if not the year: very nearly perfect connexions there and back again. We didn't exactly sail in either direction; one driver was dawdling in order not to get ahead of schedule and the next was contending with slippery fresh snow. But sitting in your choice of seat wondering why the bus isn't going faster is worlds away from standing in the snow asking when the frigging thing is going to get there, so no complaints. Okay, one complaint: The windows were so coated in salt it was almost impossible to catch a glimpse of the striking snow scenery crawling past. But again, if that's what's most important to me, I could get out and walk.

And the snow is pretty, but it could well be the death knell of tonight's cocktails. Already I've had a half-dozen cancellations--mostly claiming illness, but the prospect of an hour or more in the car trying not to fishtail is apt to change your view of a little sniffle. I'm almost hoping that no one comes and I can curl up with a book. But there should be plenty of opportunity for that tomorrow. We have no reason to leave the house--there's food for days upon days--and all that's expected of me is a little laundry.
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  • Saturday at Café Selmarie, I had this exchange with a server:
    "I'll have the [ˌtʰʁopʰeˈʦiːɐ] (Tropezier)."
    *blank look* "I'm sorry but the kitchen is closed. We're not serving anything from the brunch menu right now."
    *exchanges glances with companions* "It's in the display case. Do you need me to take you there and point it out to you?"[*]
    "What was it you wanted again?"
    "The [ˌtʰɹɵʊpʰəˈziːɚ]."
    "I'm sorry, I thought you said 'croque monsieur'. Okay, the [tʰɹoʊˌpʰiːziːˈeɪ̯]."
    "It's a German thing[**] so I was giving it the German pronounciation."
    On the one hand, I've got sympathy for waitstaff who are not also polyglots. For all I know, this woman was working at a Turkish place last week; she almost certainly has never studied German. But you should know your menu--and if some of your items are named in a foreign language, that means knowing both the original pronunciation and common bastardisations.

    Really, it's as much a failure of training as anything else. Still better than that time at Turkish Bakery where I had to write out the name of my order and tell the server to hand it to the chef. But annoying all the same.
  • Yesterday on the 36 bus, we were seated in front of an older Hispanic couple. It took me a while to figure out that the man was actually speaking heavily-accented English with a bit of Spanish mixed in, while the woman was doing the opposite. Judging from her rr, she may have been Carribean, but her diction was pretty clear over all and her English pronunciation of terms like "e-mail" sounded native or nearly so. I wondered later if it might be one of those very rare instances of two people each conversing in their non-dominant language.
  • Today I brought to work my copy of Alexander Lipson's A Russian course. I may have already mentioned here that this text has been near-legendary in my mind ever since I copy-cataloged it for UofC nearly two decades ago. The first dialogue explains the difference between "shock-workers" (ударники), who think about life in factories even when relaxing in parks, and "loafers", who steal pencils and smoke in trolleybuses.

    Unfortunately, I'd forgotten the author's name and wasn't able to locate a copy again until one literally fell into my hands at [livejournal.com profile] keyne's back in June. Today I finally remembered to bring it in to show my Belarusian coworker. I had expected a mingled reaction of delight and horror, but what greeted me was almost pure joy at finally having a translation for ударник. Apparently she'd asked many people over the years and none of them knew had to render the word in English. "We didn't have a word because we didn't have the concept!" I explained to her.

    [*] I know this sounds pissy, but keep in mind that at this point we had been completely ignored for a full fifteen minutes, and when she did show up, it was with an explanation (shift change) but no apology.
    [**] Technially, it's a German name for a French thing, the tropézienne, a specialty of the French Riviera. Essentially, it's a custard-filled brioche. There version is very tasty and so big and filling that I forgot to eat dinner. Of course, the liter-and-a-half of beer I drank soon afterward may have had something to do with that as well.
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As I told the Old Man a couple hours ago, I'm not sure if the exhibitors at the art festival in Lakeview this afternoon were any better or worse than at the other fairs we've been to this year, but the crowd was at least 50% more gay. While he pawed through boxes of framed photographic prints, I stationed myself with a strategic view of the aisleway and scanned for cuties. The hottest of the hot seemed to be working the festival, so that's incentive to come back next year.

It took us less than an hour to reach the end--a temporary parklet installed by Patch Landscaping in the middle of the street. Very fun. There was a larger-than-life chess set that I'm sure would've had my eldest nephew squeeing. But after passing through that, we cast about for something else to do to justify the trip down on the Broadway bus. (And it was a trip: the crowd were doing their best to justify my calling that route "the street theatre bus".)

I saw the Treasure Island sign up ahead and suggested we do a little shopping. Last week or the week before, we discussed the fact that it'd been so long since we'd been in TI we really didn't recall how well they stacked up next to other contenders. It seems at least as good as I remember it, with huge chunks of Callebaut stacked in the first aisle and some truly lovely produce in the last. [livejournal.com profile] monshu talked me into buying a bag of red plums for Pflaumenkuchen using the Sahnequark from Gene's and he picked up a couple swordfish steaks to go with the squid ink pasta he picked up there.

He was about to pick up some basil as well, but I reminded him that, on our way to the alley, we'd inspected the basil our departing neighbours had stuck in the ground and determined there was enough for some modest preparation. The trip back was quicker and quieter than the ride down, but no less entertaining with fewer passengers. There was a high-strung old queen who I thought was going to have an aneurysm on account of the well-behaved by chatty little girl in the seat in front of us. And it's been quite a while since either of us has seen a wheelchair get stuck in the lock or a driver try it on with a fare.
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"My brother got me a monthly pass. It was a good deal. 86 dollars but we got it from a crackhead for 40."
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Coming back on the 22 Clark from the opera tonight was definitely a mistake. I had my misgivings, to be sure, but we didn't have any luck catching a cab downtown and I really didn't feel like taking the el for the fourth time in three days. We made a lot of stops on the way north, but at least we were moving, and the Halloween partiers hadn't yet reached the drunk and obnoxious stage of their evening.

But then we came up on the nightlife corridor and that was it. Fifteen solid minutes, Belmont to Roscoe. At this point, I was seeing free cabs speed by, so I convinced my companion to follow me off the bus we'd shared for the past hour and take one of them. A mere twenty minutes later, we were at his corner and a block from my house. So much for getting an early start tomorrow!
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Today's moment of self-righteous fury: After my appointment at Illinois Masonic, I made my way down Wellington to the junction with Clark, thinking Bookman's Corner would be open. It wasn't, so I turned north to cross to street only to find the crosswalk blocked by a large town car. The well-dressed woman inside was so focussed on finding an opening in the traffic that to get her to noticed me I eventually had to tap her fender with my crutch. Any decent person would've backed up a bit at the point, but I swear she only edged out further. I started crossing anyway and did my typical stop, stare through the windshield, and ask "What is wrong with you?" manœuvre. She pulled such a mean face that it was no surprise when she rolled down her window and yelled, "I shoulda run you down!" "COME BACK HERE AND TRY IT!" I called back as she drove off.

I had a longish wait for the bus, so it was no surprise to find it packed when I got in. The driver was no help. She started forward before I could move in, so I stayed by the card reader and held on. She halted and a passenger asked me, "Are you going to stay there?" "I think I have to be behind the yellow line, don't I?" I said, appealing to the driver. "I can't see a thing with you standing there," she said. "Well, I'm not moving until I'm sure you're going to stay still," I replied. At this point, a man nearby turned into the bus and called, "We have someone on crutches up front!" People began to move aside and an elderly man who was getting off at Belmont gave up his seat for me. Much as I appreciated sitting, I enjoyed even more the reassurance that most people don't suck.

I needed it because I woke up feeling so wretched that I called in sick. Instead of taking the el into work, I rode the bus back home and fell into bed for two hours, waking only shortly before [livejournal.com profile] monshu got home and informed me that our neighbour/co-worker was coming over for drinks. When he saw the smoked fish I'd brought back from Door County, he ran to the store for crackers and farmers cheese and ate so much of this sitting on the back porch and drinking that neither of us felt like having a proper dinner. Instead, we went downstairs and popped in Juno, breaking partway through for some toast and hot chocolate.
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Apr. 2nd, 2010 09:47 am

Fooled

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I did try to compose an entry appropriate to yesterday. In fact, it's still there, half-completed, mocking me from underneath an iconic eye. At first the joke was to be that I'd sold my space here to advertisers. But given how many people have already done the equivalent in order to have a few more userpics, I found the concept too weak to pack the punch of absurdity I was going for. So I began rewriting it into an announcement that I've outsourced to a paid content provider. But, once again, that made me reflect on how many people use their journals solely to post links and recycle content from their Facebook pages.

At that point I got so depressed that my head started to hurt and I gave up.

I thought I'd gotten through April Fool's scot free, but the CTA came through at the eleventh hour. Ever since I lost a chunk of change when I had a card expire on me a couple months back I've been very careful to keep no more than $10 on a transit card. (Which is tricky, since that's only four rides and I take busses more than trains.) Yesterday, as I slipped a fiver into the machine, I commended myself again on my savviness. Four hours later, I was making the second leg of my trip back home from a lovely evening of Thai food and LeGuin with my buddy Dale when my card was spit back by the reader.

"Invalid!" said the driver, wiping it on his trouser leg and calling for the next passenger to "step up, step in". He tried it again and still it didn't work. "But I just used it on the other bus!" I said. No reply. "It's still got $7 on it!" He didn't even look at me. Fuming, I slipped in two singles and dragged my ass through the bus feeling like an asshole. Hopefully, it was just something wrong with that card reader and I'm only out the $2 for what should've been covered by a transfer rather than that plus the remaining value on the card.
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Today has been such a slog. Why do sleep hangovers always hit me worse on the following day? Yesterday I was positively perky despite being up past one on Monday, today I can barely drag myself along. Is it just the grey weather? Spring cold is so much more palatable when doused in golden sunlight.

I had good reason for being up so late, mind you, namely our last opera of the season, Le nozze di Figaro.Well worth it. Two bars into the overture, I suddenly thought of a good friend's dislike of Mozart and said to myself How could anyone not enjoy the hell out of this music? Perhaps I was just especially well-rested, but I was so absorbed by the score that for once I hardly took any notice of audience. Perhaps they were just as rapt as I was?

It's going to sound like damnation when I say that the cast was good enough to occasionally drown out my memories of the last time I heard the opera sung. However, once you consider that the previous cast was led by Terfel, Fleming, Graham, and Futral and that performance is at the apex of my all-time favourites, you'll realise how that can honestly be meant as praise. I was very disappointed to hear Schwanewilms was too ill to perform but impressed with how well Cabell handled a part she obviously wasn't very experienced singing.

The production was identical to last time, which didn't exactly help when it came to evading comparisons, but the blocking was if anything worse. Act I abounded with strange choices, from Marcellina keeping her ear to the door for no apparent reason through the entirety of Don Basilio's vengeance aria to her being nowhere near a door for her "after you" duet with Susanna. Of course, I'm so well acquainted with the plot by now that such things are easily overlooked.

Since it was our final opera of the season, we decided to get a little spendy and go to The Gage beforehand. (I'll admit it: It was the prospect of a properly-poured Guinness that induced me to suggest it, knowing full well Nuphy would take up the call.) We stumbled into a bargain: a three-course prix fix for $30/head. We were particularly impressed by the "fresh pea soup", which really did taste like it'd gone straight from vine to cooking pot. And service was faultless; we told the nice men we needed to be out of there in 45 minutes and, by Jayzus, we were.

Even the ride back home turned out to be more pleasant than expected. CTA cuts have curtailed express bus hours, which left me cast down to the vestibule of hell. I consoled myself with the thought that they must be done with track repairs by now. HA! When our four-car train finally showed, the conductor announced a wait of several minutes due to construction at Grand. The car was extra crowded due to some idiot's inspired choice to drag his bicycle on board, which left me mashed up against a couple of punkish young ones.

I tried to stayed out of their convo for as long as I could, but when they started discussing ciders, I could no longer restrain myself. Mr Mohawk works in a pub near my house which, has it turns out, has three of the on tap. When I quizzed him about the food and found that the meat for the burgers comes fresh from the butcher next door, I decided I'd have to pay a visit some time. His companion, meanwhile, did her best to recruit me as a spectator for her next fire-dancing gig. So if you mosey down to the beach next week, [livejournal.com profile] rollick, tell the funky chick with the dreads and the fire poi that Da sends his sincere regrets!
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If my fellow passengers on the northbound Express this morning are wondering what happened, I confess, it was all my fault. Here's how it went down: I got up early and resolved to take the 7:40 shuttle. But I cut it too close and decided that rather than racing out in a mad rush like yesterday, I'd make it a leisurely morning, breakfast on some clafoutis, maybe even stroll for a bit in the softly-falling snow. All of which I did, and it was lovely, and I only made one miscalculation: Rather than kill time waiting for the 8:20, I made my way to the CTA station and caught the next northbound train. Of course, at that point the universe required that there could be no way that I would be allowed to make it into work earlier than if I'd only waited for a swift, quiet, uncrowded shuttle.

I did have two compensations, however. One was the view, which is more splendid from the tracks than it could ever be from the road (particularly when one is forced to stand). The other was a conversation with a colleague lamenting the disappearance of dive motels from our neighbourhoods. On that note, anyone have any good stories about cheap skeevy lodgings?
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I was sitting on the el platform waiting for a southbound train yesterday evening when a young person came over to the other side of the bench and plopped down, straddling it. I had my nose down in a book and watched out of the corner of my eye as they pulled out a piece of posterboard and a bag of markers or coloured pencils and started drawing on it.

"I brough all this other stuff and--wouldn't you know it--I forgot an eraser!" she said to no one in particular. (Only after hearing her voice and glancing over to confirm the presence of breasts was I sure of her sex.) A few feet behind me, a man laughed. I smiled sympathetically but went back to reading. Moments before the train arrived, she looked up again and asked me, "Do you think that horror movies cause people to become more violent or encourage violence in any way?"

I stared at her for a several seconds, trying to suss out what kind of reaction she was going for. Finally, she said, "It's kind of a catch-22." I felt like I couldn't not say anything, so as the train was pulling up I managed to come out with, "I think they give people ideas but I don't think they can make someone violent if they're not prone to violence already." Violence is learned in the home, I wanted to add, thinking of my father's outbursts and the fights I got into with my siblings.

But there wasn't time to add that last bit because of the squeal of the train's brakes. From her expression, I gauged that it wasn't the answer she expected. At that point, she went to one side of the car and I went to another. I couldn't tell if she was still drawing something since I was once again buried in my novel, though I did look up as she got off the train and shot me a friendly smile again.
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So what's the bulkiest/most awkward thing you've ever witnessed someone trying to transport on public transit?

What spurs this question is something I saw on my ride to an underpromoted Bear event in Boystown this afternoon. I was taking the 36 Broadway bus (a.k.a. "the Milk Train" or "Free Street Theatre"). Around Lawrence, a man got on carrying a flat-screen television. It was 36" if it was a foot. He set it down in front of the wheelchair spot (to the evident displeasure of the woman locked in there) and went back to pay, then waited for the vehicle to stop to heave it to a seat midway down. As he watched the proceedings, the man sitting next to me began to chuckle and then told me about how he'd once seen a woman try to get a mattress on the bus.

The drive nixed that attempt, just as earlier in the ride he'd nixed the request of a man in Edgewater to bring his dog aboard. "He's hurt," the guy explained--as if the prospect of a wounded animal on the bus was somehow more acceptable from a liability standpoint. I then told the old man about how, back in college, several friends of mine had actually gotten a futon back to Hyde Park. (From the way my friend Jess told the story, I can assure you it was not a pleasant memory.)
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Yesterday [livejournal.com profile] monshu and I took the train down to North Avenue as part of our fourth attempt to get a new screen door from Home Depot (a long and tedious saga not worth going into). At first, I was surprised at the number of young hipsters riding during the lunch hour, but then it dawned on me: Lollapalooza. And I went back to reading Savage Love.

At Sheridan, my attention was grabbed by a screaming mass of teenagers clad in Northwestern University togs running for the doors of our car. Even once they were in (clogging up the space between the doors, naturally) they continued screaming and soon it became clear that one of their number had been left outside. He strutted up to the doors in a purple tank top, pulled them open, and stumbled aboard.

Twenty minutes past noon, and he was dead drunk.

The guy struggled to keep upright in the corner of the door while his friends clapped him on the shoulder and enjoined him not to hurl. At the next stop, they held him by the open door in hopes of getting him to puke out of it, but he waited until after the doors were closed to unburden himself. The rest of the gaggle immediately made noises about moving to another car. "Give him some water, all he need is some water," one girl was saying.

He did not need "some water", he needed to be put to bed. How anyone though he could be dragged along to a rock festival is beyond me. At North, three of his buddies packed him off the train. [livejournal.com profile] monshu and I gave them a wide berth as we passed them on our way out. As I was mounting the escalator, I saw one of the guys running toward the far end of the platform and yelling back to his friend, "NO MAN I GOTTA PEE FIRST!"

The afternoon was a bit unsatisfactory overall, but it only got better after this...
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If you click on the "cta" tag, you'll find a string of rantlets about minor inconveniences. It's so seldom that I have a ride which leaves me at least as happy afterwards as I was when I boarded that, for the sake of balance, I really should write this one up.

My friends dropped me off at Jackson about an hour ago to catch the HoDaR. Fortunately, it came pretty soon and wasn't crowded. My choice seat--the one at the very back--was taken, but I took one nearby and kept an eye on it for it to open up. The riders were the usual mix of drunken bums and college kids, but no one was so loud I couldn't open my book and read.

That is, until one of the drunks (who informed us his name was "Luther") sat in front of me and began preaching to the crowd. My choice seat hadn't opened up yet, but one next to it had, so I relocated--only to find myself witness to a war of words. I missed the precipitating incident, but a smartly-dressed man in cornrows was tongue-lashing a sleepy-eyed man who'd gotten on with Luther. Among other things, he was accusing him of pretending to be a cop.

I put my nose in my book, but kept one ear on the fracas, and soon I was running my eyes over the lines without taking in a thing. The usual sports bar crowd got on at Addison and Cornrows roared, "He's a cop!" to them, indicating the drunken fool. The latter got off at the next stop--and to my surprise, an exchange of good-natured railery sprang up between Cornrows and one of the new boarders.

One of the recurring themes was that the "fake cop" had given the new guy his badge upon leaving and our man was now in charge of the train. "There are two kinds on this train," Cornrows told him, "Cubs fans and White Sox fans; which are you?" "I'm a Milwaukee Brewers fan!" said our man, and I couldn't help but break into a wide grin. Brewers Fan immediately picked up on this and pointed me out to Cornrows, and I pulled my Cardinals scarf for identification. "But I give up for the Brewers," I told them.

Usually, I'm fatally misaligned with the wee-hours crowd on the train. I'm as sober as they are wasted, and as tired as they are ready for fun. But the combination of party afterglow and late-night punchiness was perfect for me to appreciate the spontaneous rapport between a black dude and a cheesehead in a car hurtling through the North Side. I wished them the best before getting off, and Brewers Fan needled me about the Braves. "Don't talk about the Braves!" I said before floating onto the platform, facing a hike home through dark soggy streets.
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Honestly, when is the CTA going to simply change its schedule to say that the 8:40(ish) train from Howard will run express to Davis and thence to Central? This morning, I just didn't feeling like joining the lowing herd at Davis. (There's room for four lines on those stairs; why can't even one of them move quickly? Create an express lane, like in the supermarket! No texting, high heels, or precarious coffee balancing!) Instead, I decided it would take me the same amount of time or less to ride up to Central and then ride back two stops.

As I was sitting there with my earbuds in place but my iPod stilled waiting for the train to move, a businesswoman came forward, held the door, and hissed "Central!" in my direction. Intellectually, I know she was only trying to be helpful, but my inner voice retorted What kind of jackass do you think I am? and I gave her a frowny look. Moments later, the train slowed while passing my stop and a young man also wearing headphones got up and stood in the doorway; he looked annoyed and embarrassed when it failed to stop and I thought, Oh, that kind of jackass.
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There's an old racist joke I remember from my childhood which goes:
Q: What has four arms, four legs, and goes, "Ho-dee-do! Ho-dee-do!"
A: Two black men running for the elevator.
I didn't hear this from anyone in my Mom's family--not that it would've been completely out of character for them. Rather I clearly recall reading it somewhere, though now I can't remember whether that was Maledicta or some old joke book. At the time, I was put off by the mean-spiritedness of the dialect humour. (We, of course, had always been taught that making fun of the way someone talks is one of the meanest things you can do and I was especially sensitive to this due to my stammering.) But that's not all that's being lampooned here.

I recalled this today on my way into work because the northbound train pulled into the station just as I reached the viaduct. I know from experience that even running full tilt at that point won't get you to the train in time; you'll just be sweaty, out-of-breath, agitated, and late. So I shrugged my shoulders and resigned myself to making it in five minutes after nine.

The woman behind me didn't share my fatalism. She broke into a run, her flip-flops clopping wildly, and when she hit the stairs she started screaming "HOLD THE TRAIN! HOLD THE TRAIN!" None of the passengers paid any heed. (Why should they? They've got places to go and holding the door only angers the driver and makes other passengers resentful.) By the time she made it to the top, the doors had snapped shut and the train was pulling away.

Perhaps I could comprehend this kind of carrying on if, say, it were midnight and this was the last train of the night. But this is rush hour on the el; there's another train only minutes behind this one. (In this case, four minutes. Even I was surprised; they even held the shuttle at Howard, so I made it to work with enough time to stop off for breakfast before sauntering in perfectly punctually.)

Given the confusing intersection of race, class, and culture in US society, I'm not sure how to deconstruct my associations. Certainly, being taught to accept missing a train or elevator with equanimity fits in with my identification of Restraint as the cardinal virtue of the petite-bourgeoisie: Don't lose your composure. Don't make a spectacle of yourself. Don't presume upon strangers. The most that's allowed is a moderate dash towards the door, a slightly amplified, "Hold, please!" as you draw near, and a mild expression of disgust if, after all that, you still miss your ride.

That doesn't mean I've never seen middle-class people run for the el, but in this case it's something I associate with adolescents (particularly naïve students) rather than adults. But am I filtering? Does having grown up with a stereotype of lower-class Blacks as excessively expressive lead to observational bias? Do I unconsciously rationalise away similar activity from non-Blacks? ("Oh, they must be tourists; they're used to the Metra and don't know how often the trains run." "Oh, she must have an interview this morning.") Almost certainly true on all counts, but when you strip out these effects, are you left with any valid observations and, if so, how to account for them?

(One theory I've subscribed to before is success: I used to be more ready to run for buses than el trains, because their schedules are often even more erratic and it may be as much as an hour before the next one. But over time I noticed a subtle bias on the part of the chiefly-African-American drivers that another friend of mine summarised as, "I don't run for the bus. Maybe if I were a Black woman, I'd have a chance, but the drivers won't wait for me."

However, the same generalisation doesn't seem to hold for el trains. The drivers on the Linden line in particular are very good about holding the train when they see people coming, whatever their race, particularly at my stop where the stairs are directly in front of their cabs. In fact, it can border on the annoying as the train make two or even three false starts out of the station. And it shouldn't make any difference at all for elevators.)
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When my new hire told me she intended to come at 9 a.m. rather than 9:30, I figured I'd better shift my schedule, too, so I'd still have that half hour of screwing around before I had to get down to business. It makes me feel better to realise that it wasn't simple laziness that's been keeping me in bed a bit longer, but the general fuckedness of the CTA. I remember it being worse earlier in the rush hour, but whoa nellie!

Gory details of today's commute, of interest to no one but myself )

For that last little bit, I was able to chat with my morning commute buddy. The Howard train he'd been on also went express from Wilson. I told him about my ill luck last week leaving promptly in order to make a 6 p.m. appointment and getting trapped on a southbound makeshift express to Wilson. In both cases, the announcement was completely garbled so it was only after the doors had shut and the sign had changed to "Express" that people really knew what was up.

It caused me to reflect afresh on how unremittingly hostile the CTA is to newbies. I've always taken a perverse, embittered pride in knowing all the dirty tricks their personnel come up with in order to inconvenience with me which manifests as schadenfreude at the plight of bewildered occasional or first-time riders. But the switching choices are so inexplicable, the scheduled times such a laughingstock, the provision of information so rudimentary, that I find it at little hard to believe it ever gains new riders at all. For me, it's a cantankerous old buddy that I can't live with and can't live without. But you? You're young and fresh! Can't you find a means of commuting that loves you back?
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In case Tuesday's portrait of my new neighbour with the meth head ex left you feeling sad, I'll tell you that he was in fine spirits when I ran into him on the train last night. It was his birthday, so he was doled up for a night on the town; I spotted him from across the car and he fairly bounded up to me--which was a touch awkward, as I was underslept and just getting home from an overlong day at work. Also, it was a full car and, even though I felt like giving him a congratulatory peck, I gave it a miss because I didn't fell up to having to deal with any possible bullshit. (Homophobia sucks, the internalised kind most of all.)
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Apr. 28th, 2008 09:25 am

#50 Damen

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The joy of riding public transit is knowing that the scruffy guy you see sitting on the church steps as you're standing on the corner and who is patting his chest and WHOOPING LIKE A CRANE will be getting on the same bus as you.
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Without any notification, the CTA made a major alteration in a train route. For as long as I can remember, the Express has circled the Loop clockwise. This means that when going to the opera house, for instance, I would always have to change to a Brown Line train at some point (usually the Mart) in order to get to the next stop without a 10-15 minutes tour of all downtown elevated stations. Today, however, I was going to State & Lake and relished being able to remain comfortably seated all the way--or so I thought until I heard Wells & Washington announced as the next stop. I wasn't in a great hurry and would've just sucked it up if not for the fact that my "Express" had been stopping unpredictably between stations for half the route. After we sat for several minutes at Lasalle (despite the absence of a train immediately ahead of us), I'd had enough and got at out at Library & State in order to a catch a northbound bus.

I thought about changing to the Red Line, but I can never remember which downtown stations are closed and when--or even when the Red Line is running underground and when it isn't. I once spent 20 minutes at an underground station until some CTA employee finally informed me that no trains would be coming by all night. This is partly why, after the movie, I gave up on the trains altogether and decided to take an express bus instead. Some idiot in an expensive car (you'd think I'd know what make it was since I almost ended up on top of it) tried to run me down at Wabash. I had the light, she started turning without even looking, and I literally had to bang on the hood to get her to stop.

Did I mention it was pouring rain at this point? That's relevant because there was a huge puddle in front of the Michigan and Randolph stop. Incredibly, most drivers--even the cabbies--changed lanes to avoid it or slowed to crawl to minimise their wake. It only took one asshole, however, to do the exact opposite for everyone in the shelter to get soaked to the skin. After at least fifteen soggy minutes of wondering where the hell the bus--any bus!--had gotten to, we spotted a 147 turning north onto Michigan from South Water--two blocks north of us and four blocks north of where it should be turning. Figuring I couldn't get any more wet at this point, I tramped two blocks north to a now-empty shelter, determined not to miss the next one. When it finally came by, I asked the driver if the route had been changed. He explained that it hadn't, but that he'd been held up over 20 minutes because of filming for a movie (Public Enemy with Depp and Bale, according to a co-worker) and surmised that the other driver had sought an alternative route around the mess on his own.

In short, public transit is for suckers. I've got to start making a lot more money so I can just take cabs everywhere I want to go.
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Today at the check cashing place, a woman tried to slip me the most obviously counterfeit fiver I have ever seen. I mean, for the most part it was pretty good, but then it had this ginormous ONE INCH HIGH purple numeral "5" in the lower right-hand corner. She tried to insist that it was legal tender, but I said, "Look, lady, try that one on the Ruskies. I was born here, I think I know what a freakin' five-dollar bill was supposed to look like." Finally, she gave in and I got a real bill instead of funny money.

In other Monday morning news, the CTA was so effed up that I ended up spending 23 minutes of a 41-minute commute standing around like an asshole on the platform as trains whizzed past me. I especially appreciate how they ran the delayed Express...um...express past the first three stations (hurrah!) only to break the news at the last minute that they were expressing past the next three stations as well (hiss!), so I had to walk twice as far to work. Which I might have appreciated if I wasn't (a) already late and (b) out in the freezing drizzle.

The one compensation is that walking farther meant that I got to see the first snowdrops of spring. Well, I guess the other compensation is that it's Opening Day at Wrigley Field, which means that there will be literally thousands of morons huddled under tarps and wraps in weather you wouldn't leave a dog out in to watch a team play that hasn't won a World Series in ONE HUNDRED YEARS. The only thing that impairs my sense of schadenfreude is that it's also Opening Day at Busch Stadium and there's a flash flood watch in effect for all of Metro STL. On the other hand, highs in 70s. Suck it, Cubs fans!
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