Category Archives: the city

Open Letter to Riders of the CTA – part 2

My dearest fellow public transit travelers,

Last year, I sent you a letter (Open Letter to Riders of the CTA) and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that a follow-up is necessary.  It hurts me that you just seem unable to learn basic rules of commuting and human decency, but I’m committed to helping you make your way in this world with as little inconvenience to me as possible.

Picking up where I left off:

10.  There is absolutely no reason – NONE – for you to sit in the middle seat of an empty 3-seat bench.  Does the “no touching unless absolutely necessary” rule really need to be spelled out for you?  This infraction is the public transit equivalent of one of those various “urinal rules” I’ve heard guys have.  You don’t want to be that person, do you?  The creep in the middle seat who is either going to force people to touch them, or force people to stand because they’re so freaked out by your seat choice?  I didn’t think so.  Do the responsible thing and move over one way or the other.

11.  Your toddler is adorable, he really is.  Who doesn’t love watching a small child take those unsteady steps, with their tiny hand clutching yours for dear life?  I’ll tell you who: the person behind them on the subway stairs during rush hour.  Pick your kid up!  For her safety, for mine, for yours.   Teach him how to walk up the stairs and nurture her independent spirit someplace safer and more out of the way.  Hell, unsupervised on some metal bleachers in the middle of winter would probably be safer than up from the Chicago Red Line stop at 5:20 pm.

12.  I get it – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is just the most AMAZING book you’ve ever read.  You just can’t put it down… I’ve read books like that, where I squeeze in a few chapters on my commute or during my lunch break.  But you know what I never did?  Walk through a subway stop at rush hour while reading it.  Why?  Because that’s stupid.  It makes me want to walk into you on purpose and then blame you for it.

13.  Do we need to have lessons on how to go through a turnstile?  I wish I could just blame the tourists for this, but it’s well past summer and I know a lot of you I see every day have to walk through these things on a regular basis, so there is really no excuse for not knowing how it works.  First of all, if you are scared of the ones that look like they could slice and dice you, I understand.  Go through one of the regular gates (Psst!  They work both ways!).  But maybe it would help if you thought about this like merging on the highway: You need to enter the turnstile and keep it going at the same speed it was when you got in.  That means NO SLOWING IT DOWN to a crawl.  Or waiting for it to make 3.5 empty revolutions before you get up the nerve to jump in.  Be ready to hop into the first available space or stop pushing your way to the front of the line.  And don’t even get me started on the lazy bastards who refuse to do any of the pushing themselves, and let the next person in line do all the work.  One of the days, I’m not going to.   But not during rush hour, because I’m not the kind of asshole who holds up an entire line of people who just want to go home.

14.  I’m going to take what might be an unpopular position here:  Oranges, unless you have pre-peeled and separated the segments prior to your commute, are an entirely inappropriate food to be eating while squeezed into the seat next to me on an overcrowded bus.  If I get orange juice squirted in my eye because of your inattentive peeling, I’m going to be very cranky.

15.  Finally, because it cannot be said enough times, even if you’ve gone back to read the original letter I linked to above, MOVE. ALL. THE. WAY. TO. THE. BACK. OF. THE. BUS.

Thanks guys.  I have faith that eventually you’ll catch on 🙂




Random Thursday thoughts, posted on Friday because sometimes I procrastinate in my personal life

So, the reason I don’t post very often is because drawing those simplistic, so-easy-a-4-year-old-could-draw-them pictures really stresses me out.  I don’t have a fancy tablet to draw on, nor do I have a mouse… so everything is drawn using my finger and a tiny mouse touchpad on my laptop.  Since I’m not very good at drawing when given actual implements (one time in college, my RA decided to have “make Christmas cards for the folks at the nursing home” as a floor activity.  Mine literally looked like a 4th-grader drew it.  I was 21), you might understand why this stresses me out.  Or maybe you don’t get stressed out by really stupid stuff, like I do. 

Aaaaaanyway, I don’t want to lose the meager number of people who actually do read this blog, so I’m going to start posting more blogs with no drawings.  I’ll still draw pictures occasionally, but there will definitely be more words than pictures.  It’s like moving from kid books to “young adult” books and trying to pretend like you don’t care that there aren’t pictures because you’re a young adult now and too cool for that.

So here’s some random thoughts for this week, young adults:

It’s been raining here in Chicago for approximately 18 years.  It might be closer to 4 days straight, but it sure feels like 18 years.  Over the past couple weeks, we’ve had very few days with actual sunshine, let alone days where it’s not raining.  I get it, it’s springtime, April Showers and all that crap… but I am so sick of this rain.  It feels like the whole city is on the verge of snapping and collectively screaming “I can’t take it anymore!” and moving to Florida.  (The sun came out for 2 minutes while I was writing this just to make me a liar… the sun can be kind of a d-bag sometimes.)

Yesterday, a few women from my office went to yoga together – they had a coupon or something.  Have you heard of yoga classes?  Apparently they’re a pretty big deal and literally almost every person I know has gone to one.  Not me… I’m a little tightly wound lately – too tightly wound for yoga.  And don’t even bother leaving a comment that says, “Mairin, if you would go to yoga, you would be less tightly wound.  It would totally help you become calmer”, because believe it or not, that would not be the first time I’ve heard that. 

I did try yoga once.  My sister had this video that was a combination of yoga and Pilates and sometimes I would do it with her when we lived together 6-7 years ago (sidenote: it makes me feel really freaking old to think that I was still an adult 6-7 years ago).  And the woman on the DVD would say something like, “This used to be hard, but now it feels like a rest pose”.  And I would yell something like, “No it doesn’t, you witch!  Stop being so smug while trying to kill me!!”.  My sister later requested that I not do the DVD with her because I was making the whole process more stressful.

As for doing taking a yoga class, I’m pretty sure if you took me out of the privacy of my own home and threw a bunch of strangers into the mix, it would only stress me out more: “AmIdoingthisrightwhycan’tIdothisrightwhathappensifIgetstuckOMGI’MSTUCKwaitnoit’sallokay (INHALE) i’mstillaliveandbendingtherightwaythankGodisthisalmostoverwhyisn’tthisoverWHYCAN’TIBEDONE?!?

So I think I need to find ways to make myself a little less stressed before trying yoga.  I have a list (I love lists):

Sunshine (it would really help a lot if the sun would stop being such a d-bag)

Looking for bullfrogs in the pond with my niece and watching her jump when they jump

Beer gardens in the city finally opening up

BBQ-ing (I bbq veggies, but they are still delicious and I don’t even miss hamburgers and sausages.  No.  Seriously.  I don’t miss them at all.  I swear.  STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT)

Running in the morning before the City wakes up

Holding sleeping, newborn babies makes me very relaxed.  Conveniently, my older sister is due in just a few weeks, so this works out for me.  🙂

In the next couple months, I should be much less stressed out because I get to do all these things… and then, maybe I’ll check out this “yoga” business.  If it’s even still around then.  Psht.  Trends.

Go Go Gadget-arod!!

Springtime in Chicago… it’s a beautiful thing.  People cast off their coats and hats and start running around in shorts and flip-flops the minute the temperature moves above freezing. 

And since 2007, the first Saturday in March is what I consider the official start to spring.  That’s the day that 100s of costumed fools form teams, decorate shopping carts, and run through the streets of the near northwest side of Chicago for the most awesome party/pub crawl/costume party/food drive of the year: The Chiditarod (

This will be the 6th year it’s been in existence in Chicago… and the 5th year I will have participated.  It all started one night in 2007, when I got a call from my friend asking me to join his friend’s team (they were confused and thought someone had to ride IN the cart and I was the smallest person they thought would be game).  That’s back when walk-up registration still existed.

Standing in an alley near a checkpoint. Theme: Chicago Bears QBs.

In 2008, I wanted to start a team, but couldn’t find enough people.  Again, I got a call the night before when someone had to drop out of my friend’s team. 

Theme: Oregon Trail. I did not have any bonnets or aprons, so I went as Typhoid. (photo courtesy of liz l)

The next year, I finally scrounged up enough people to form my own team.  Because we’re highly topical and up-to-date people, we went with a political theme:

That's 2 moose, a bear, a wolf, Sarah Palin and a helicopter WITH MOVING PROPELLER! (again, photo courtesy of liz l)

It rained that entire race.  And I had a wicked bad cold and was on a ton of cold medicine.  Let’s just say that corralling 4 inebriated teammates in the pouring rain is NOT something you want to do when sick and completely sober…

2009 brought the best weather EVER!  I was team captain again (which essentially just means I’m the one who registers us).  Due to people’s jobs and the end of a relationship, we had to make two substitutions and that’s the year we came up with the perfect team: all women with adolescent humor who don’t believe this race is made for running.  Awesome.

2010: Strange Brew (official photo courtesy of

 I’ll admit, when one of my teammates said, “Let’s do Strange Brew”, I was secretly thinking “NO one is going to know what we are!”.  But boy howdy, I couldn’t walk through that crowd with people calling me a Hoser and high-fiving me.  🙂  Apparently that movie is a hipster staple that I’d been missing out on.  And to be honest, a theme that is primarily about warm clothing, beer and donuts is really a can’t-lose idea.

This year, we’re trying to top ourselves… and I think Go Go Gadget-arod might just do it.  No the cart hasn’t been built yet, but here’s a sneak peak at our extremely official plans:

Crayolas are the preferred writing utensil of the team architect

If you live in or near Chicago, you MUST at least come watch the start of this fantastic race.  There are over 100 teams registered, which means 500 people in hilarious costumes racing through the streets.  AND, the most important part of all: we’re all raising food and money for the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation.  Each team is required to cross the finish line with 42 lbs of non-perishable food.  Organizers have set up a way for us to create fundraising pages as well, if we so choose (my team chose… it’s here if you’re interested: 

This is a video of last year’s start (my team goes by at about 0:40):

If that doesn’t make you want to come check this out, I don’t know what will.

Worst First Date

So I did some online dating a few years ago.  Right before I swore off it (and actually, the reason I was swearing off of it), I went out with a guy let’s call….. Derek.  That’s not his real name.  

So I had this free profile posted in our local, hipster-friendly newspaper.  Derek (a pretty hot masseuse) sent me a message.  Now, I’m not really big on emailing for weeks and then meeting each other.  It’s way easier to lie about yourself in an email than in person.  So I arranged to meet him for an afternoon coffee at a local (but not so local as to be too near my apartment) coffee shop.  I set up my safe call with a friend, let a couple people know where I was going to be (if you’re reading this, Mom, you can see I was totally responsible and smart!).  

I got there early, so I could pick a table that was within sight of the counter and other patrons, got my own coffee, and settled in with my book about Chaos Theory (that’s how I told him, and the couple others I saw, to find me.  Again, it’s shocking I’m still single, right?).

Derek showed up pretty much right on time and we started in with the typical blind/online date questions.

I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let me give you the info in Derek’s profile:
Age: 38 (I was 26.  It was kind of a big age difference at the time, but I didn’t see this being a long-term thing… I just figured a couple dates couldn’t be too bad)
Neighborhood: Bucktown
Profession: Masseuse (I’ll admit that this factored into me agreeing to meet him)
Status: Single

The easiest way to do this is to just put the pertinent parts of the conversation in here.  Let me emphasise that I am not exaggerating here.  These are actual things he said.  Italics are what I was thinking at the time, not current interjections.

Derek:  I should probably tell you that I fudged on my age
Mairin:  Really? [shit]  How old are you?
Derek:  I’m 39.  But I just turned 39 and I just don’t feel that old.  So I changed my birthday in the profile so it would still say 38.
Mairin:  Huh. [what a stupid thing to lie about. not a good sign. i wonder what else he’s lied about?]
Derek:  Oh, and I should probably mention that I’m divorced.
Mairin:  Wait, but your profile said you were single. [being divorced isn’t an issue.  it happens.  not too keen on all the lying though]
Derek:  Yeah, well, technically I’m single though, right?  It was a long time ago.
Mairin:  There’s a reason that “single” is an option and “divorced” is an option.
Derek:  Does that bother you?
Mairin:  Lying bothers me.
Derek:  Well, then I should probably tell you that I don’t really live in Bucktown.
Mairin:  Wait, but that’s what you listed as your neighborhood!
Derek:  Well, yeah, I don’t actually live in Chicago.  I live in [name of town about 2 hours from Chicago, let’s call it Loserville in Derek’s honor].  But when I did live in Chicago, 10+ years ago, I lived in Bucktown.  And that’s where I’d like to live if I moved back.  But yeah, I live in Loserville with my mom and older brother.
Mairin:  (rapidly drinking coffee so as to end date) So they live in that town too?
Derek:  We all live in the same house.  I had to borrow my brother’s car to get here today.


Mairin:  [let’s change the subject to something less loser-y.  this guy has to have at least one redeeming quality] So how long have you been a masseuse?
Derek:  Oh, only about 6 months
Mairin:  Really?  What did you do before that?
Derek:  Well, before that is when I was living in Detroit.  Mostly I grew and sold massive quantities of high-quality marijuana.
Mairin: … [shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit]
Derek:  It’s the perfect place to do something like that, because police there really have bigger issues to worry about than busting people like me.
Mairin:  … [is he really trying to use, “i was never busted for my illegal activity” as a positive quality?!?]
Derek:  And it’s not like I was selling to kids or anything.  I only sold to dealers.
Mairin:  [oh, well in that case…. ]  Well, I had really better be going.  I’ve got this protest that I’m going to with my friend.  The one who called.  The one who knows where I am and who I’m with.
Derek:  Oh, some friends of mine wanted me to meet them at the protest, what a coincidence.
Mairin:  Haha, how strange.  Well, have a good time, I’ve really got to get going.

Never saw him again.  He actually emailed about 8 months later.  I was happy to tell him I was otherwise occupied.  Besides, it’s hard to go out with someone when you don’t know when he’s going to be able to borrow his big brother’s car.

Got a bad first date story?  Please, help me feel better about myself and share it in the comments 🙂

Online Dating

I’ve been browsing the “matches” section of one of the local, hipster-friendly papers.  And have decided I’m entirely too old for this bullshit:

I lived in England for 6 months after I graduated from college 12 years ago, and still have a bit of an accent, so I hope you’re okay with that.  Who doesn’t like an accent, am I right?  Anyway, enough about my cosmopolitan yet unpretentious past – let’s talk about the future.  Our future.  

I always said I’d never do online dating so this is all a bit strange and new, and endearingly awkward, to me.  It might be a little hard to tell from the fact that I’ve been doing this for 4 years and haven’t even bothered to update my ad or my pictures, but it’s just because my sensitive soul has a hard time with this cold and imperfect way of meeting people.

Language is like the air that I breathe, or like food.  I chew on words; I digest them.  Some days I just go ahead and spread them on bread and have a peanut butter and adjective sandwich.

I guess you could call me a hopeless romantic, just puttin’ it out there, looking for the love of my life. Nowadays, everyone’s so focused on themselves – I want to be focused on YOU.  But not in a creepy way, even though I come across like that at first.  And while I may be  in my mid-30s, I’m really just a big kid at heart.  I’m looking for someone who wants to be a kid with me, a woman with a child-like sense of wonder at the world around her, with whimsy and spontaneity to match my own.  I’m really looking for someone who won’t notice that I haven’t matured in the past 15 years.  

Also, you have to be hot.

Edit:  I’m paraphrasing… for the most part.   The originals are actually harder to understand, so I’m just making an attempt to clarify what they’re really trying to say…


Every morning, I commute a little over an hour by bus and L train.  It’s a long ride; it’s even longer on the way home during rush hour.  So I have to come up with ways to entertain myself.

I read books that make me look smart.

(note: while I do read smart books, I have never read Pride and Prejudice.  That title came up when I googled “Smart People Books”).

I also sometimes secretly read books that I make fun of other people for reading.  I make sure the covers of these books are never visible so if someone I know is on the bus, I can’t get called out on my hypocrisy.

Lots of times, especially if I’m on my way to my day job after working my overnight job, I sleep.  I probably drool.

Frequently, after sleeping on the bus or train, I jerk awake about 3 stops before I’m supposed to get off, in a complete panic that I’ve missed my stop and am somehow headed back the other direction again.  This is never true.  I’m not the most rational person right when I wake up.  I’m also frequently not actually awake when I think that I’ve woken up.

[Update: I must’ve jinxed myself.  This morning after I wrote this, I woke up at the announcement that all passengers must exit the train since we were at the end of the line.  My stop is definitely before the end of the line.  Awesome]

Lately, probably because I’m mid-way through season 3 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix, I’ve found it highly entertaining to imagine that everyone I see wearing an enormous cross either around their neck or emblazoned on their clothing is actually a vampire slayer.

Finally, and I think about this probably much more than is healthy, I run through scenarios in my mind in which a zombie outbreak occurs in my train car.  This way, if and when the zombie apocalypse occurs, I will be able to remain calm and get myself to safety.  See, in the movies, it always starts with a virus:


So by the time zombifying occurs, I’m well on my way to the connecting doors of the cars and escape:

Since zombies lack the motor skills to open doors and climb to the top of the train car, I’ll be safe at least until we get to the next stop:

The plan after that is a whole other post.  But trust me… I do have a plan. 

MW v. Yogis

Remember these guys?


The Yoga Jerks… we’ve had some issues.  Under the first owners, they left a note outside my door, telling me my TV was too loud during their meditation session on Tuesdays, from 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm, and could I please turn down the volume at this time.  Now, I had just recently moved in, was aware of how thin the floors/ceilings were (because I heard my upstairs neighbor constantly), knew that the TV was probably pretty loud so I could hear it over my jet engine furnace, and wanted to have a good relationship with the neighbors since I planned on being here a while.  So I left them a charming little note telling them that of course I would turn down the volume at that time.  I even included my phone number and told them they could call me if I was making too much noise.

I really liked the first owners.

This past summer, it changed hands.  It went from “Yoga Studio” to “Yoga and Movement Studio”.  I really wish I still didn’t know what that meant.

We had a mishap early on, where my kitchen sink overflowed and due to a structural issue in my kitchen, water flowed straight into a tiny gap that apparently led straight into their studio.  Oops.  I was extremely apologetic and the owner was very nice about it after I explained what happened.  It happened once more (dishes shifted in the sink while the water was warming up and I wasn’t in the room) in the early winter.  As soon as I realized what had happened, I ran downstairs to apologize.  In the midst of me apologizing profusely and offering to come down with my own towels and clean it up, the staff person simply turned around and walked away.  That’s when they officially became the Yoga Jerks.  And apparently when they decided to go to Passive-Aggressive War.

Later in the winter, our sometimes absent landlord had not gotten around to shoveling in front of the building.  So apparently, the Yoga Jerks decided to do it themselves.  This is the result:


In case you can’t tell, that’s the entire front of the building, the entire width of the sidewalk, shoveled completely clear… except for the 3-4 square feet directly in front of the door that leads up to my apartment.  There’s no way that’s an accident.  Sure, it’s not the Yoga Jerks’ job to shovel the walk… but only a real asshole is going leave 1 1/2  shovelfuls of snow in front of the door.  Message received, Yoga Jerks.

And then the gonging started.  They have a giant gong that, according to their website, is “relaxing”.  I can’t possibly imagine how.  They like to use it in the evenings, when I’m at home trying to chill after a long day at work.


That damn gong vibrates my entire apartment.  It sounds like they are right in the kitchen.  But I was going to be a good neighbor, so I dealt with it.  I even tried using it to my advantage, thinking I could get free “gong baths” (seriously, that’s what they call it) out of this.


Ok, so it’s not the most relaxing thing to me… but it’s just a little gonging, right?  I can live with this.  This is still better than living above a nightclub or a bar or something.  Well, if you give these Yoga Jerks an inch, they’re gonna take a mile.  A mile of Zumba-ing.

What’s that?  You don’t know what Zumba is?  I didn’t either… not until the Yoga Jerks started it.  According to Wikipedia, Zumba “combines Latin and International music with dance in an effort to make exercise fun”.  According to Mairin, there’s a lot of stomping, yelling, and loud music with a heavy beat designed to piss off your neighbors.

They Zumba in the evening when I’m trying to watch TV:

They Zumba on Saturday mornings after I’ve had a late night out:

And they do not respect the time-honored tradition of apartment neighbors telling each other to shut up:

I just couldn’t take it anymore.  Every time I heard/felt their stupid Zumba music, I found an online Polka station, turned the speakers toward the floor, cranked up the bass, and blasted Polka music into my floor boards.  I specifically chose Polka because the beat is so different from Zumba beats, and I was hoping to trip them up.  Also, I like Polka.  We were in the full throes of the Passive Aggressive War.

I broke first.  It was a Wednesday night a couple weeks ago… I got home from work at about 6 pm, ate a small dinner, and went straight to bed.  I was scheduled to work the midnight shift at my 2nd job that night, after which I would go directly to my day job in the morning, so I wanted to squeeze in a few hours of sleep before I had to start getting ready at 10.  Right after I fell asleep, they started Zumba-ing.

I pounded on the floor, exhausted.  No dice.  They probably couldn’t even hear me.

So I decided the time for passive-aggression is over and I was going to confront them face-to-face.

Let me remind you that I’d been asleep.  I was in my pajamas, which meant I was wearing a giant pink T-shirt that says, “Meat is murder.  Tasty, tasty murder”.  So I threw on a bathrobe and my flip-flops, pushed my sleeping mask (what?  I go to sleep in the daytime, it’s a necessity) up on my forehead and headed down.

I stomped downstairs, still mostly asleep but thoroughly pissed off, and attempted to enter the Yoga Jerks’ studio (through the street entrance, mind you)… it’s locked.  As I was about to start pounding on the door, I suddenly realized that I was standing on the sidewalk in my bathrobe, hair all over the place, sleeping mask on my forehead, and a wild look in my eyes.  I do not want to be that person.  So I hurried back upstairs (before I attracted any more attention on the sidewalk) to call and left a polite message asking them to turn it down.

I don’t remember everything I said.  I imagine it was mostly incoherent, since I’d just woken up about 8 minutes ago.  Then I tried to go back to sleep.

You know what a pillow over your head does in cases like this?  It drowns out all ambient noise, such as the fan, traffic, my little radio playing ocean sounds… everything except the damned Zumba beats, which are now clearer than ever.

Apparently, my voicemail successfully got the message across that I was pissed though, because I got a call back as soon as the class was over.  I didn’t answer, since I was unsuccessfully trying to sleep for the last hour before I needed to start getting ready.  The gist of the message was:  “We’re allowed to have classes until 9 pm, according to our lease, so tough break… it must really stink to live about a dance studio.  We’ll try turning it down a bit”.

Thanks Yoga Jerks.

But then they actually did turn it down.  Last Saturday morning, after I’d been out very, very late, their Zumba did not wake me up.  When I’m awake, I can still hear it.  It’s still a little annoying, but this is totally doable.  And I’m so relieved, I could cry.

Now, if we could only figure out how to turn down the gong.

Birthday Eve

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I will be 30.

I will not use this space to publicly freak out about this.

30 will be awesome.

I actually really do love my birthday.  I’ve got really awesome plans tomorrow that are all about me… and they do not involve cleaning or bill paying or anything else responsible I should be doing on my days off.  Tonight, I get to hang out with some really awesome people, as they celebrate me.  What could be better?

Thursday, I got one of those little forms in my mailbox stating that I had a package waiting at the “Mail Distribution Station” that serves my area.  I was SO EXCITED: someone sent me a present!  That little slip of paper in my purse kept my feet dancing all day Friday.  This morning (Saturday), I head off to the station, package slip in hand.   Hooray!  Present time! 

Now, let me make this very clear.  A Mail Distribution Center is NOT a Post Office.  And it is NOT easily accessible, and it IS kind of sketchy looking.  I happily handed the woman behind the half-door (that’s all it was, no lobby, no nothin’) my slip of paper and my ID (note to self: you’ve lived in this apt for 2 years.  Probably time to update the address on your ID).  She goes into the depths of the mail room and returns 5 minutes later.

It’s not for me.  The USPS put the slip in the wrong mailbox and there is no present for me.  My feet stop skipping.  I know I look really sad and want to say, “But it’s my BIRTHDAY!  Isn’t there anything you can give me?”.

But I don’t.  I simply leave all those packages for more fortunate people and get on the bus.

Worst. Ever.

It’s Hot

It’s so hot, my muscles melted into my mattress this morning.

It’s so hot, I broke a sweat while brushing my teeth.

It’s so hot, my baloney fried itself.

It’s so hot, I’m pretty sure it’s making gravity stronger.

It’s so hot, my ice cubes melted on the way from the kitchen to the front room.

It’s so hot, the buses are breaking down.

It’s so hot, the hipsters stopped wearing ironic cardigans.

It’s hot.

Open Letter to Riders of the CTA

Dear Fellow Riders,

We’re all in this together; there’s a solidarity in our daily sardine-can experience.  And it’s not that I don’t enjoy my morning and evening group cuddle with all of you.  So I’m laying this all out there in the most loving way possible.

1.  If you’re going to elbow your way in front of me after I’ve been standing here at the bus stop for the past 15 minutes, you’d best have your card ready.  Yeah, I said card.  Because if you just pushed past me in order to put quarters into the fare box one by one, I’m not going to be a happy commuter.  Probably not as angry as I’ll be if I’m standing in the rain while you root around in your 50 gallon purse for your Chicago Card, though, so there’s that.

2.  Sometimes, sitting in the empty seat is not about how tired and in need of a rest you might be.  It’s about making more room on the bus or in the train car.  See, because as long as you are standing in front of the empty seat, no one can sit in it.  And a void wants to be filled.  That’s just science.  You don’t want to fight science, do you?

3.  If you don’t like the fact that my leg is touching yours, maybe you should just go ahead and move your leg over a little.  See, this is my seat, and that is yours.  I highly doubt it’s absolutely necessary for you to sit with your legs that far apart.

4.  Also, if you are seated in the aisle seat and I am seated in the window seat, and I need to exit our shared seating area, the easiest and least painful thing to do is for you to get up, allow me exit, and then return to the seat of your choosing.  Because if you just turn to the side, or worse yet, slightly shift your legs, I will not be at all mindful of what my bag might hit as I am exiting.  I know you want to do the right thing here.

5.  That’s quite a large backpack you are wearing.  Have you noticed that it’s taking up the space of a whole person and has also hit the seated passengers in the head multiple times?  Take it off.  Hold it down by your legs.  See?  Legs take up less room than torsos, so there’s tons of room down there!

6.  When we are stopping at a major stop (e.g. anywhere you might transfer from a bus to the L, or any of the Lake St L stops in the Loop), many people are getting off the bus or train.  Therefore, there is no need for all 64 of you to stand up from your seats before we even stop.  Do you notice that there is nowhere for you to move to, because no one has yet gotten off?  And because you can’t move, no one can move into your seat without getting to second base with you.  The bus/train won’t leave before you get off, when 80% of the other riders are also getting off.  And there’s only so much space here – you can’t fill an already occupied space.  This is also science.

7.  The pole by the door there is for people to hold onto, not for you to lean on.  If you don’t like my knuckles in your back, perhaps you should stop leaning on my hand.  See?  Doesn’t that feel better?

8.  I can see that you are very proud of your extremely long hair.  But if you keep flipping it around like that when there are 700 of us packed on this bus/train, so help me I will not be held responsible for what I might do.

9.  For the very last time, MOVE ALL THE WAY TO THE BACK OF THE BUS!!!!!  This does not mean, “Move to the back door”.  You see those steps back there?  After the back door and leading to the back section of the bus?  Those are magic steps.  If you walk up them, we are all less crowded.  It’s a miracle!  And you should try it.  Because there are 47 of us crammed into 10 square feet up here and I’m practically sitting on the driver’s lap.

I know we can do this.