September 19, 2008

Take the R-(rated) Train

This is the thing about public transportation. It's, well, public. I don't have occasion to ride the CTA often, so when I do, it's an adventure.

I caught the train today to head downtown. So did crazy-swearing-screaming-cell phone girl. As a matter of fact, she sat right across the aisle from me.

"What the *$#&! I was in the %$:{?=%^car, too, ya }&$%#! Don't give me that *#~(*%." Heads turn. The entire car, filled with Cubs fans, and other hapless riders stare.

"Hang on a *=%^$ minute. What the *&*}% y'all lookin at? I paid my *&=^%# fare and I'm talkin on the *[&^#$ phone."

Train stops. A conductor comes to see what's going on. "I am just on the phone," crazy-swearing-screaming-cell phone girl says, lowering the volume slightly. Satisfied, the conductor leaves. "Who the *&{#* you pointin at, &#$*&! Hold on girl, I am on the *+%$%^ train. I told you to *%{^*&#."

Train stops again. A larger conductor enters. Crazy-swearing-screaming-cell phone girl lowers her voice a few decibles so that only our car can hear her braying at her sister. He leaves. A male rider sits down beside her and begins to talk to her quietly. No dice. "I can talk $*(#&$ on my phone. Just mind your own &#^$* business, (*&}+&^%."

Train stops a third time. An even larger CTA employee enters and sits down behind her. "Nah, I am just talkin on my phone. I'm getting off this &*%%^& train anyway, so y'all just turn the &"}*&^ around!"

During this long episode, I kept my earbuds in and stared straight ahead. But this was a mistake, too. The couple standing in the doorway of the train turned out to be equally fascinating. Oblivious to the hubbub, they were standing so close to each other, had they been closer they would have been behind each other. But as I looked closely, it appeared that the guy could have been no older than sixteen and the woman no younger than thirty. Creepy.

An hour later, my seatmate and I exited downtown. "Some adventure?" I said as we walked east on Chicago Avenue. She nodded. "I am new here. My first ride. I just moved here from Brazil. I was afraid to change seats and I didn't know what to do." Welcome to Chicago! "I think the woman was harmless, just obnoxious," I told her. "It was the porno pair that made me nervous." She laughed. We made hasty introductions as we headed east.

On the train ride home, there was a couple sitting a few seats from me, both clearly developmentally disabled. His head was thrown back as his girlfriend gave his crotch a playful massage. Weary, I closed my eyes. When I opened them a few minutes later, I could examine their tonsils while their tongues thrashed around. I closed my eyes firmly and didn't open them again until the Howard Street terminus was announced. I'll tell Maria from Brazil the epilogue of my train adventure if she calls.

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