Innovative uses for ketchup
Today we have a guest post from Nina, my friend and work colleague. Nina is also the geek behind the scenes at Lee Sandlin's website, where you can find some great captured moments from the CTA and elsewhere around Chicago.
Thanks Lee and Nina!
People used to ask me if it bothered me to ride the CTA so much. It's full of weirdoes, they said. Well, maybe -- but I think they need to get out more.
When I moved to Chicago in the late 1970s, I had a job on the University of Chicago campus. The el stopped just a couple blocks away at 63rd and Cottage Grove. But everybody -- everybody -- told me not to use it. All the students, faculty and staff were strongly advised to take the Illinois Central commuter train. Being new on the scene, I initially did that, even though it meant changing trains twice and the 7/8 mile walk between the station and my office, and added $1.50 to each trip. And it only ran like once an hour -- at least, when I wanted to take it. And it was blindingly cold inside the cars; and let's not forget how hard those doors were to get open (no, they don't open automatically).
Alright so one hot summer morning I'm sitting there, freezing in my (heat-wave) dress and sandals, trying to read a book, when I feel this sticky, gooey sensation under my right heel. I turn in my seat, and there is a guy on the floor behind me on his hands and knees. He's maybe a little chubby, and he's dressed in ill-fitting clothes for straight people like the kind folks used to get from Sears. And he is squeezing ketchup out of a little packet into my shoe -- right under where the heel was lifted up a little. He has 5-6 more packets with him.
Somewhat at a loss, I say "Excuse me?" (I have since learned that my remark was supposed to start with the ungrammatical construction "What the...") And he just mumbles "Sorry" and pads away.
I turn back to my book, no longer really reading -- and the guy actually pads back over and starts to do it again.
I don't remember what I said to him the second time -- maybe my stop came then. But as I walked those 4,500 feet to the health policy office, a little more ketchup squilching out behind me with every step, I thought -- mildly and reasonably -- "I do not prefer to pay $3/day to freeze on the Illinois Central."