I don’t know when she got on. But, by the time we approached Fullerton, she was starting to lose it. She sighed. She sighed again with feeling. She stage whispered invectives. Finally, she telephoned.
The problem? The CTA and its delays. If you don’t live in Chicago, you may be unaware of a fundamental fact about our city: the subway system is much worse than it should be. Unpredictable, inefficient. If it weren’t for the surliness of the staff, we’d have to dwell on the idiosyncratic schedule. The trains crawl past certain neighborhoods to cut down on noise complaints (from people who chose to live next to the tracks). The trains pick up speed, but slow again as you start to get closer to work. As they approach the loop, trains frequently stop and sort of hang in midair, repeatedly, repeatedly. Sometimes, a three beep tone will announce that the train is stopped for signals up ahead, which is better than the voice that says “your driver is off the train.”
And today’s loud person on the train was not having it. By the time the train stopped between Sedgwick and Chicago for the 2nd time, she was shouting into her phone (warning: profanity),
“I’m gonna be late. Because this CTA sucks. Its sucks. Its the most unreliable way to travel. I don’t know who the president is or what but he doesn’t care. He’s already at work. This fuckin train is a piece of shit. Its a piece of shit. I can walk faster than this train goes. And I have my flip flops on. This fuckin train just keeps stopping. Its the most unreliable way to get to work. It sucks. I could walk faster than the train even though I’m wearing my flip flops. I can’t believe I switched from the Red line. The Brown Line blows. It sucks. “
Nothing ramps up the kindness than a passerby acting rudely. It makes us much more patient and forgiving than we really are. So her fellow passengers shared conspiratorial glances and laughed at her outrage, making us all hypocrites. Name a Chicagoan who has not grunted and huffed, cursed CTA leadership and shouted “Oh, C’Mon!” to no one in particular, and I’ll show you someone who drives to work. Though, usually you don’t see people quite so angry when they managed to grab one of the single seats.