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Tell us your crazy commuting tales

If you ride public transportation on a regular basis, you have a story.

A story about that crazy lady yelling Bible verses. About the sleeping guy who smells like he hadn't taken a bath in weeks. About the rude ticket agent. About the woman fighting with her boy friend on the cell phone.

And we all want to hear them.

Click on "Comments" below this post (or scroll down below the last comment) and tell us your story. I'll make separate posts of the good ones.


I was coming out of the Washington red line station on Sunday when I saw something odd on the stairs. It was an old, white baseball cap with a ratty, blond hair extension attached to it. The piece of hair still had two plastic barrettes in it.

Here's the response I received after writing an angy email to the CTA...they said that they only received a few dozen complaints about Monday night. C'mon, instead of complaining on this blog, write the CTA...see email exchange:
from Me:
"All the CTA needs to do is:

1. tell their lazy kiosk attendants to pick up the PA and ANNOUNCE when there is a delay!
2. Actually communicate to the lazy kiosk attendants that there is a delay!!!!!

You people are infuriating me with your passive, careless attitude. The CTA affects people's lives and productivity. If I had a choice I would NEVER take the CTA.... went to the Washington Red Line stop shortly before 5pm, paid my fare, walked past the person in the Kiosk, who said NOTHING to me as I passed through the turnstiles, went downstairs and alas, there were no people on the platform.

I came back up, asked the woman in the yellow vest what was going on, and she said that the red line wasn't running underground.

That would have been nice to hear BEFORE I paid my fare and walked down to the platform. She SAW ME walk past her!"

CTA response: "Thank you for the added information. We agree that you should have been advised of the service interruption and evacuation, though the fact that you were allowed into the subway suggests it may have been after the police finished their search and determined it was safe, possibly right after. The attendant also would have had no way of knowing when train service was going to resume, because none of us knew--we were all waiting for the police to allow the trains back into the subway and we had no advance notice until we actually received the all-clear.

But your point is well taken and we cannot argue with it. If we knew who the person in the kiosk was, we would look into it and perhaps take disciplinary action, though the first step would be determining if it was our own employee or a security guard. If you could describe the woman any further, we would make this effort because everyone at the affected stations--CTA employees and security guards alike--were under instructions to assist our customers in any way possible. I hope you can help us positively identify the person in question. In the meantime, we certainly apologize. ....Actually we've only received a couple dozen complaints, but we are taking each and every one of them very, very seriously."

ONLY a couple dozen complaints?

One thing: I hate it when they put new drivers on bus routes. This morning I caught the 86 bus to the Green Line. There were about 10 people on the bus and 90 time out of 100 nobody rings the bell for stop by the train, but the driver always know to stop. Normally when the bus gets to the Green line, it turns on lake street (one block away from the train entrance), stops to let people exit, then goes down a block and sits before it's time to make the trip northbound. This morning the bus driver made the turn on to lake street, doesn't stop and keeps going to it's resting place (outside a Dominick's). What was this bus driver thinking all these semi-casual people were going off to do at 8am? Maybe grocery shopping for the week? Pull a double shift at the gas station? So we sat there thinking he was going to make his trip northbound and take us to the front of the train station, but he said he was sitting there for a while. Instead of us walking that half block to the station, we had to walk an extra 2 blocks (and we saw our train pass as we got closer to the station). Lesson learned: Always signal to the driver for your exit because how is a driver to know that somebody might want to get off even if he has a bus load of passengers pulling up to a train stop.

Not really a crazy story, but a large group of tourists were in the last car coming from O'Hare and when we got to Belmont, they all got off of the train clutching maps, bags, etc., exclaiming to all the others in their group that they were downtown! I guess they thought that subway = downtown...

As if getting home last night on the 6 wasn't harrowing enough with Lollapalooza and our driver getting turned around, all of the passengers on the south bound bus had the pleasure of five novice trixie wannabees to make the commute oh so extra special.

I will cotton to a few things, I had just got off of work and being in my 30's gives me the hindsight of just how extraordinarily lucky I was to make it through my twenties. In short I realize that I was (and probably continue to be) a braying jackass. Nonetheless, the ladies violated all sorts of CTA etiquette and basic common courtesy. Instead of some long-winded diatribe, let me just tell you what not to do when riding the six.

1. Wear good running shoes. The six is always behind schedule---even for the CTA. If you live on the line you know this and adjust either your schedule or foot attire. Don't wear the trixie uniform of jeans and heels, flag the bus down and take you sweet time getting there because your feet hurt from your foot attire. It pisses people off and makes a long commute even longer.

2. Have the appropriate fare ready. The ladies did not have the correct fare and after all of the flak that countless drivers have given riders who are a dime or two short, five girls rode for free. I should have got his employee number and reported his ass.

3. And I can't stress this enough---SIT DOWN! DON'T BLOCK THE WAY! Since the girls couldn't sit together in a gaggle, they all stood at the entrance of the bus hindering other commuter's entrance and exit. Lord forbid they would have to sit next to someone they didn't know. Be a little less self absorbed and think about the others who are riding the bus as well.

4. SHUT THE F**K UP! No one wanted to hear about some friggin come dressed as your favorite celebrity party hosted by some U of C folks. As with most late night bus lines, there are working folk that perhaps get only a few minutes of peace during the day. Must your trite banter take up a considerable amount of their quiet time on the bus?

Seeing that they got off of the bus after 11:00 PM and the 6 stops running around 1:00 AM, I wonder if they made the last bus? I'd love to see that crew coming back a tad tipsy on the red line at 2 or 3 in the morning. Now THAT would be interesting.

Anybody have any idea what happened on the brown line this morning? We stopped at the Merch Mart and police went running past the open train doors yelling "Somebody's down.". I went to one of the back cars to see what was happening, but all I could see was a girl sitting on the train floor talking to the police.
Did she hurt herself, or witness something?

The delay on Brown Line around 8:45 a.m. this morning was due to a female passenger who fainted on an inbound train as it pulled into the Merchandise Mart. She was assisted by several fellow passengers, Chicago police and paramedics and she is currently doing fine, I'm told.

Fellow passengers, people do get sick and cause trains to be delayed. We can just be thankful she's OK and that it didn't happen to us.

How selfish of anyone to get sick and delay my train! They just wanted attention at my expense. That's all it is.

I happen to be one of those oddly dressed people riding the trains. Usually, I pay no mind to the whispers and wierd looks I get, but there was one particular reaction that caught me completely off guard.

On this day, I happened to be riding the red line, stretched out across the two seats in front of hobo corner, wearing shiny black and red nylon rave pants, a black t-shirt with a white image of a comic book character who was holding two daggers(known as johnny the homicidal maniac), and a black floor-length trench coat, all topped with a black, green and grey 3-pronged felt jesters cap that had a black mask that covered the eyes (something close to the hat shown here: http://www.mentalgear.com/f3585_tri_jester.asp ) - a rather odd sight, I would assume.
Shortly after the whispers and stares subsided, an obviously mentally disturbed man stumbled in through the emergency doors at the other end of the car. Without provocation, the man began to point and laugh hysterically at every commuter on the his end of the car, as if they were all in their most undignified undergarments. As he made his way toward my end of the car, I braced myself for what would no doubt be a good 10 minutes of ridicule and harrassment from the man. Yet, to my surprise, when he turned around and faced me, he fell completely silent. He gave me a serious, almost cold stare, nodded respectfully at me, then calmly turned away. He then resumed his point and laugh routine, starting with the man in a 3-peice suit opposite me, then ran off the train. I was completely dumbfounded. I really wasn't sure whether I should have been flattered or insulted!

Not expecting rain last night, I left my umbrella at home when I went to work in the morning. Of course, right at 5:00 when I was leaving work and walking 2 blocks to the train, it started pouring. By the time I entered the subway, I was soaked and my magazine was a soggy mess. Even though there were seats available on the train, I decided to stand, figuring I would soak the person sitting next to me.

I'm sure I was quite the sight! I was standing there, glasses foggy, clothes literally dripping water into little puddles around my feet and trying to read my magazine which was all smudgy.

I guess it's good to have humbling experiences. I just wish I didn't have them so often!

Matt, I had an umbrella and I still got soaked.

Alright, this is an honest query, so I ask that anyone reading not form any opinions as to my intent before reading through it.

While commuting downtown from the northside over the past several years I've noticed something that I can't account for.

What I've noticed is that 8 or 9 out of 10 riders from the northside walk up the escalators, while 8 or 9 riders out of 10 from the southside stand on the escalators.

Now I assure you, I'm not chalking this difference up to race, class or anything else.

What I've also noticed is that when I get to the building that my office is in, almost everyone stands on the escalators. Similarly, most people stand on the escalators at department stores and just about everywhere else. In these locations, I'm sure you'll have people from the north and south sides, along with your usual suburbanites and tourists, yet virtually everyone stands. I being someone that likes to get to where I want to go ASAP am constantly annoyed by this clogging of the escalators.

Anyway, the question seems to boil down to whether or not people are in a hurry to get out of the subway specifically. Do northsiders tend to feel claustrophobic or uncomfortable in the subway, so they rush upstairs as soon as possible? Do southsiders tend not to feel particularly uncomfortable in the subway, and so are in no hurry?

It's just something I've wondered about since I've noticed this happen consistently everyday for 5+ years.

Oh the comments from the above post ought to be priceless. Let the pissing and moaning begin!

I always try to walk up...it's like a free stair master and I can get a bit more exercise before spending my day with ass planted in my ergonomically designed office chair. The "standers" I've noticed do tend to be overweight and/or older.

I used to stand still... until I heard Seinfeld's bit on the people movers at the airports. He's got a point, it's not a ride.

I haven't conducted any real surveillance, but I have a hunch that the escalator riders are the same people who saunter down the wrong side of the sidewalk during peak traffic times, oblivious to right-thinking people twisting and turning in an effort to avoid running into them. A few simple, universal rules beginning today: Walk on the right on the sidewalk, Stand to the right on the escalator, Pass on the left in both situations. Got it? Good.

I frequent the Chicago redline subway stop and I find it amusing how immediately after exiting the train people will wait while everyone in front of them rush and crowd to use the escalator while the stairs are empty. By the time they even set foot on the escalator they could have been at the top of the stairs. Lazy much? I think so!

About two weeks ago I was on the NB redline. Across from me is a guy sitting across from me grinning ear to ear at nothing...or something I don't know. Then all of the sudden she screams out "Purple!!!!" and then laughs hysterically. He did this every couple minutes from Chicago to Wilson where he got off.

Somehow I keep running into the laughing crazies. Last night, while riding the #77 Belmont bus, there was a guy at the back who was snickering gleefully while tapping his feet. He nodded to me as I took one of the inward-facing seats. I nodded back then drew my attention to the front of the bus. Next thing I knew, the guy had gone from mumbling to himself in spanish, to calling out every stop on the route. He'd call out the next stop, then say "poop". He did this from Campbell to the Red/Brown line stop. I couldn't control my snickering as the man incessantly ranted, "Ashland..Poop!!... Southport...Poop!! Lakeview...Poop!! Racine....Poop!! Seminary...Poop!!!" When the bus reached the "L" station, he stood up, gave everyone a "Howdy" and a nod as he made his way from the back of the bus to the front, then exited.

aside from the "laughing crazy" in the previous post, I'd like to add that I have run into a problem with the "staring crazies" on many occasions - and it's not always in the context of the post I made ~10 entrys up. Last night, I was in a simple pair of jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt. Nevertheless, there was a guy on the red line, about half a car away from me, who would NOT stop glaring at me. He had an expression that made me wonder if I did him some terrible injustice in a past life; it was one of those "I've finally found you, you rat bastard!" looks. He stared at me like this from Belmont until he got off the train at 69th.
Correction: When he wasn't sleeping, he was glaring at me. I'd glance nervously at him from time to time, and see him either with his face buried in the window, fast asleep, or sitting straight up and burning a hole in my forehead with his "stank-eye". Really kinda creepy. Has anyone else ever run into a "staring crazy" like this?

It's a gorgeous morning on a Red Line el platform. Birds chirp. The streetsweeper swishes by below. But there's an eerie calm, punctuated by the bright white puffy cumulus clouds overhead that sit motionless in the sky. Interesting things are in store ...

A 30ish metrosexual with requisite untucked, vertical-striped collared shirt, black fancypants and black leather shoes boards along with me at Thorndale. We sit across from each other in the priority seats (I am recovering from a broken ankle). He has a buzz-cut, mirrored futuristic sunglasses, and two-day sloppy-stylish stubble.

He quickly sets up a jamming/computing workstation in his seats, briefcase and iPod in the seat next to him, large silver laptop in his lap.

The train starts movin' and he starts groovin' ... shaking his head from side to side and jostlin' his leg to the beat of the music piping into his ears through those signature white headphones. The mirrored sunglasses come off.

Bryn Mawr, Berwyn and Argyle, stop-and-start, clackety-clack ... the car begins to fill.

A girl sitting perpindicular to him is completely amused. She takes him in for a good minute, then smiles and shakes her head before going back to her book. His eyes pop open wide and he mouths a silent "oohah" at something on his computer screen, then swivels his head again from side to side, squints and smirks. This guy is havin' some fun.

At Addison, there are still a few seats left in the car, but this guy's pushing the limits of civility. When we pull up, he stretches across both seats with a leisurely and slightly smug (or oblivious) demeanor, puts his arm up behind his grooving head, and literally soaks it all in, watching our new groggy carmates board with a bemused expression.

Is he like this every day? Did he close on a stunning and exciting condo yesterday? Did he get laid last night? Did he slip a little somethin'-somethin' in his morning coffee? Did he forget to take his Ritalin? Alas, I will never know.

At Belmont, our friend hops up, grabs his computing and dancing supplies and literally dances out the door. As he leaves, I simultaneously want to laugh at him, smack him and thank him.

I don't know if this anecdote is truly amusing or if I was just bored with my book. When I got on the Red line yesterday, a man sitting in the side-facing seat by the door was eating a double cheeseburger. I know it was a double because he had opened the wrapper all the way and removed the bun. I didn't watch longer to see why he had to spread his sandwich open on his lap because I am so disgusted when people eat anything on the train.

(Really, people: do not eat on CTA. If you don't have time to consume your snack before stepping on to CTA property, then you Don't Have Time To Eat. How can you be so revolting?)

Anyway, a few stops later, the driver emerged to disable the door beside double-burger man, for no reason that was apparent to any rider. To do so, she had to open the cabinet on each side of the door. When she stepped up to the man, he looked up with a giant white mustache on his upper lip. It looked like a full mustache from a Got Mayonnaise? campaign. For a few confusing moments, the man didn't understand what the driver wanted: the driver mumbled again, the man leaned to one side to afford access, and then the driver made him stand up. She made her adjustment, told us the door would no longer open, and then returned to her compartment. Double-burger man said to her departing back, "Thank you!"

This is the tale of Ms Macramé and Ms Demure.

First, let me say that I love, no LOVE, the Transit Theater. I credit this to my late mother, a 1960’s cocktail drinkin’, Chesterfield smokin’ minister’s daughter who often took me, as a child, to hang out at the international terminal at O’Hare just to go “people watching”. At age 6 I was already fascinated by the seemingly endless visual smorgasbord of the human race.

Earlier this summer on a late Friday afternoon in mid-June, I left work a bit early. I was tired, it had been a long week and I just didn’t want to deal with the rush hour crowd in the loop. Mornings I usually take the Brown Line to downtown because I enjoy the morning light but at night I just want to get home as soon as possible so I always grab a north bound Red Line at Monroe. This Friday was like most; the car was full but not packed and it was very quiet. At the Lake St stop it all changed.

A few people got on including two remarkable young black women who grabbed everyone’s attention. They were young, tall and even taller in their summer heels. Big hair and breasts really added to the eye-popping vision. The shorter quieter one (whom I shall now and forever call Ms Demure) was a vision but the tall one? Absolutely stunning!

Open toe high heeled sandals. Hip huggin’ low rise jeans, skin tight and with the top button already open, so scandalous yet inviting. Big red nails and glamorous eye make-up let everyone know that she takes her public appearances seriously. But all that was nothing compared to her, um, mid-section. She was wearing a sleeveless, mess tank top of sorts except that it was red-yarn macramé with HUGE openings in the yarn so you could see…..everything. Wait! I forgot to mention that she had HUGE breasts and she was NOT wearing a bra or anything else under her macramé top. Yes, full on surgically enhanced big bare titty action on the rush hour Red Line! (She will now and forever be known to me as Ms Macramé 2005.)

Everyone was staring with mouths agape. Were they hookers? Were they strippers? Hooker strippers? What on earth had boarded the Red Line? I could tell Ms Macramé loved the attention and she put on a show, slow to choose a seat. She also gave everyone that “look”, the one that said “don’t even think about messin’ with me”. That’s when I noticed something really extra special….the size of her hands and her feet. Oh my! A TRANNIE! Wait, make that two trannies! YEE HAH!

That’s when they had my complete and unending admiration. By now Ms Macramé had taken a seat. I was standing near the door and when she glanced in my direction I gave her a smile to sort of let her know that I had figured her out and thought she was cool. Her look back said, “Oh yeah Mr Middle Age Bald White Businessman? How about this?” and she then adjusted her red macramé top so that both BIG nipples were poking out and aimed at me like little flesh guns. After adjusting she looked at me and smirked again to let me know she was fierce and had just put me in my place. Of course the previously snoozing grandma next to her could only stare.

That’s when she and her friend, Ms. Demure, took out their bags from Taco Bell and spilled the contents into their laps. Yay, gorditas for dinner! What a sight watching them eat their gorditas with their big hands and big red finger nails. Uh-oh, their stop. They hopped up and got off at Clark and Division. The whole car let out a collective gasp as they exited.

Every good story has an epilogue and here’s mine. I saw them a week or two later in the morning. They were sitting in the bus shelter at Belmont and Clark…….eating Dunkin’ Donuts.

I thank my mom every day for teaching me it’s okay to stare at other people.

A couple of summers ago, I was on a 145 bus heading up Michigan Avenue. As the bus was stopped in traffic, I turned to look out the window and saw a 20-something woman struggling with a couple of parcels as she tried to climb onto the back of a motor scooter. She was not unattractive herself; however, she wore a tank top of about the most unflattering shade of baby blue imaginable, ill-fitting beige low-rise stretch pants, and what looked like a couple of wooden blocks strapped to her feet. I'm no fashion maven, but even I could tell she'd made some unfortunate fashion decisions that day.

Just as I became consciously aware of this, from about two rows back I heard a very gay voice saying, quite loudly and clearly, "Oh, honey, you need to go home and start all over."

a FREAK show . . . . that only the bus can deliver . . .

So, last Sunday, I'm ridin' home on the 151 bus yesterday after shopping at Bloomingdales. There was the craziest collection of utter freaks on that bus.

There was newlywed couple, who can't keep their hands off each other - which is not too freaky. Except the guy is utterly pasty and really pudgy with a high pitched squeaky voice, and his wife is a supermodel quality hottie, apparently Indian or something. I figure he must have money.

Then, up comes Angry Sporto Guy, who makes some snide comment (why?) to them as he huffs onto the bus. He's got a bright red face, big beer gut and looks reeeeally mad, and is lugging an enormous box of what is probably sport gear, but given the collection of nuts on board, I'm convinced it's bombs - he's the Sport Bomber.

The chick sitting next to me, is normal looking, stylishly dressed and with perfect makeup even. She then starts blinking rapidly and twitching and swearing and muttering about how the ACLU is not FUCKING paying her enough, and they are FUCKING with her . . . twitch-blink-blink-twitch.

In a respite from my horror, I glance at the mild mannered guy next to me, quietly reading his paper, which is neatly folded. Until I notice that the clipping is 10 years old, and it's a picture of Don Johnson, which is frayed from apparent affectionate fondling. He's gazing adoringly at this photo, and appears to be quite, uh, glad to look at ol' Don. Oy.

Then . . . JESUS BOARDS THE BUS. I kid you not, from the Lincoln Park zoo, a guy with long black hair, long white robe, sandals and . . . a big cross w/ INRI on it gets on. Sport Bomber apparently is very offended by Jesus, because he starts making angry remarks and is trying to pick a fight with him, his enormous sport bag is swinging inches from my face. Jesus, predictably, is diplomatic and appears to defuse the situation, at least until Sport Bomber exits the bus, near the playing fields.

This causes the Mutterer to rave louder about that damn ACLU . . .

Jesus gets off near Sheridan and Belmont, forgiving sins for everyone on the bus.

Paper Gazer gets off at a nursing facility on Sheridan, never taking his eyes off Don.

We get up to Irving/Broadway, and there is a guy lying LYING flat out on the sidewalk, all bright red and sunburned, apparently passed out drunk. Right on the sidewalk.

This all happened Sunday on the SAME bus ride. I kid you not. It was totally crazy.

wow. i think erika wins.

More on CTA re-routing/shutdowns

I was just forced to take the Blue Line home because the Brown Line EL was closed due to "CTA work/ers". I questioned 4 CTA employees, 1 at the State/Lake EL station, 1 at the Clark/Lake EL platform, and 2 within the Blue Line station/mezzanine at the Thompson Center (Clark/Lake).

2 would not comment. The other 2 said "CTA Work" and "Due to CTA Workers".

The "Conclusion" section of my article (http://culhavoc.blogsome.com/2005/08/03/tommy-two-times-and-the-alleged-mi6cta-incident/) includes several items of interest that clearly explain the reason for the re-routing. Fed funding (1/4 B for CTA) was OK'd by Congress in early July 05. The expansion on the CTA EL lines is finally underway. However, the rerouting DOES NOT occur in the morning rush hour, only at 5pm rush hour and lunch hour. Why?

I have another interview with a CTA employee (friend of the family) which I will conduct in the comming days, perhaps he can verify what I am about to speculate on.

I have the feeling that the majority of CTA "threats" are simply an excuse to experiment with traffic flows before actual construction begins. I surmise that the reason for conducting such an experiment during the close of business hours rather than the opening of business hours is because, well, it eats into the time of the riders, not Corporate Chicago.

This is speculation which I will attempt to confirm.


Thursday on the northbound 49 a trixie gets on at Lexington and Western. Didn't think anything about it until the bus driver exclaimed "Why'd you put $10.00 in there, I don't have change!" She protested that she had a fare card. He pointed out that she didn't put a fare card in. At first he suggested that she get the bus number and call the CTA for her money. Well, it wound up that he would have the next 4 people getting tranfers give her the money. It was a polite crowd though, we mostly kept our snickering to ourselves.

I've noticed that most of the posts regarding the South Side portion of the "L" system tend to stop somewhere around the Red line stop at 35th. Coming from someone who commutes from quite a bit further south than that, you guys are missing out on a lot of fun. There is a glut of crazies, evangelists, and self-contradicting druggies between 95th and the Loop, and it would be a shame if they went unnoticed on this wonderful site. I, Rexblade, shall implement my "No Psycho Left Behind" program, by sharing my adventures from 'down under' from time to time. I invite my fellow Southsiders to do the same!

WARNING: If ever you find yourself riding the #95W bus during the afternoon, and happen to spot a heavy-set, dark skinned man sweating bullets (regardless of the weather) and clutching a Bible with a ticked-off look in his eye, STAND CLEAR!!!

If it's not bad enough that this man is an evangelist, he seems to have tourette syndrome. He starts his sermon like any other evangelist, calmly leering at passengers while declaring that he knows there are some wretched souls riding today. Then comes his sermon, highlighted with awkward and ear-piercing screams: "AAAHHHH!!! The Lord saves all!"..."Put down the booze and the drugs cuz AHHH they won't get ya any closer to the Lord!!"..."The Lord saved a wretch like me and AAAHHH he can forgive you too if ya just call on Him AHHH!!!"

Once, while a woman was boarding the bus at Ashland, he swung his Bible out into the aisle in front of her and shouted, "WAAAHHH!!! Y'NEED JESUS!!!!" which had the woman so startled that she nearly leapt back into the driver's lap.

Luckily, it's rare that this man will be spotted on the train. He usually can only be found on busses from 95th to 79th, and from State to Western.

Around 10:30 PM on the night of Saturday, August 6, my wife and I on the Belmont platform, waiting for a northbound Red train. We waited around 20 minutes, watching numerous southbound Red trains and Browns pass us.

The loudspeaker suddenly squawked to feedback-screeching life. "Attention, passengers. There is no delay. I repeat--there is no delay. It's just that they're working on the Red Line on the South side. The trains are a little behind."

Well, that would be a delay, then, wouldn't it?

Waiting for the southbound Red Line "L" last night at Grand just after 7 PM, with a few other people on the platform. One is a loud-talking guy who's part of a small group.

A few minutes into his loud-talking, he takes out a little point-and-shoot camera and snaps a few pictures of his friends.

"Who's taking pictures!?" the Star Security woman from the south end of the platform, hopping off the milk crate she's been sitting on and ambling northward. Another flash. "You can't take pictures! No pictures! There's no pictures allowed!" Star Security shouts.

"I-I didn't know," mumbles previously loud-talking guy, putting his camera away.

"I'm TELLING you NOW! No pictures!" Star Security retorts rudely. She strides past the "offender," making her presence clear, "checks out" the more northerly end of the platform and heads back toward her milk crate.

Two years ago, Ben Joravsky had a piece in the Reader about John Mattison, who, taking pictures on a CTA platform, had been told it was illegal to take pictures on CTA property. The article quoted CTA spokeswoman Noelle Gaffney as confirming that taking pictures is not against the law, except for rules governing things like impeding the flow of traffic, commercial photography and filmmaking.

So was this Star Security guard just taking it upon herself to oppose photography, or are security guards being instructed to stop people from taking pictures? Is it the CTA giving this instruction, or the security company -- in contradiction of public statements from the CTA?

It's not just that the security guard was making a big deal over something about which she was wrong (I believe, still), but she was also incredibly rude, loud, and generally unpleasant about it.


He is so right; the tales of the south side Red Line are so incredibly entertaining that they must be told. Their literary promise must be liberated. The normal freak show rules still apply but add to it all of the guys (and some gals) with their various hustles and whoo boy do you have a hoot and a holler.

It's better than watching T.V.

This morning on the southbound brown line ... it was pretty packed as we rolled into Fullerton. The train comes to a somewhat hard stop. I hear a loud gasp/scream from a woman and a muffled but intense cracking sound. I turn around and apparently the hard stop caused a young man to slam into a window near the handicapped fold up sets, cracking it like a spider web!

He promptly said he was okay as he disembarked at Fullerton.

Anyone with more details, please chime in.

Cheers, Lybaby!

Yet another tale from the South:

While boarding the eastbound bus at 63rd and Halsted, I was greeted with a big smile and a wave from a man seated in the seat just beside the entrance. He wore one of those "this is a great day to be alive" grins. I smiled back, and sat in the first forward facing seat. I glanced back at the man to see him rocking back and forth, waving his hands before his face - obvious signs that Mr Grins is mentally handicapped.
Just as I had resolved to politely ignore Mr Grins, he began to laugh hysterically, grabbing the attention of everyone on the bus. From there, his dialogue became "HAHA!! Dont you come back here no more! Dont you come back here no more!! GET OUT!! HAHA!!!" He chanted this from the Wentworth to Stoney Island.
As if this encounter weren't both strange and amusing enough, I have since seen Mr Grins four times. Each time, he is happy as a clam, and rambling his chant, "Dont you come back her no more!!" This brings up two points: 1) I wonder if Mr Grins is being thrown out of the same place every day, and 2) I wish I could be so happy all the time, under any circumstances....or maybe not.

I was dared to post this. The people who dared me lurk here and said they would start contributing if I confessed. I decided, what the hey, I'm sure the statute of limitations is up by now.

Many, many years ago I was on the Howard line (that's how long ago it was, it was the Howard line). It wasn't crowded, but there were some standees. One of them was a pregnant woman. There was a guy sitting in one of the seats next to the doors that face the aisle. He had his briefcase on the seat next to him. I asked him if he would move his briefcase so the pregnant woman could sit down (I was standing also, but she really needed a seat). He refused. So at the next stop I picked up his briefcase and threw it off the train. He had to get up and chase after it, the doors closed, and the pregnant woman got her seat.

After a long and miserable week of nose-to-the-grindstone, it became MORE miserable when my early office departure didn't matter Friday afternoon--after a twenty-minute wait, a north-bound Red Line finally pulled into the Jackson stop, and a crush of people boarded only to find that we have a surly train operator who barked out "THIS TRAIN WAS DE*LAYED*! THERE ARE *MORE* TRAINS RIGHT BEHIND US! DOORS ARE *CLOSING*!" at every stop as we plodded our way north. Things perked up when I got off at my Wilson stop--I got to watch an incredible butt on a handsome man just ahead of me, and he reached into his pocket as he turned west onto the sidewalk to head down Wilson, walking toward our ever-present "troubador" (our wild-haired skinny resident beggar from the Wilson Club Hotel, who stands against the wall with his cup and sings either "Daniel Blow Your Horn" or one other old folk tune--NEVER anything else--with staccato precision). I was taken aback that a butt that nice would have the compassion to give money to a beggar...I could hear a coin rattle inside the plastic cup he tossed it in, followed by a blessed silence and a "thank you, sir!" And as I passed 10 feet behind, the Singing Beggar muttered under his breath "it's only a fucking NICKLE!" I couldn't help but to chuckle as I turned my corner and watched the magnificent butt of the Nickle Donor fade into the distance. Sometimes beggars CAN be choosers, I guess.

I've been riding the EL on a regular basis for nearly ten years now, and I've seen my fair share of Hobo Corner shenanigans, human waste in unwanted places, and mumbling crazies. But my favorite EL story is actually sort of sweet.

I had just moved into the heart of Wrigleyville and was taking the Red Line north to Addison. I had just had a really long day of classes at DePaul and was just ready to get the heck home already. I was in a middle car that was full but not packed; there were people standing but not stacked on top of each other. It had been overcast all day long and major rain was predicted.

Just like turning on a tap, inbetween Belmont and Addison, the rain came. HARD. It was insane how heavy it was raining. The train slowed to a stop and the driver annouced over that his visibility was zero and he was going to wait for the worst of it to pass, so he could see the signals at the Brown/Red Line junction. I huffed and inwardly complained; I wanted to get home and now. Everyone groaned a little.

So we're all quiet, either watching the rain or reading or whatever, all a little miffed and upset about being delayed, and someone's cell phone rings. And what was the ring tone?

"Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head".

Everyone chuckled and smiled a little, and after a few more minutes, the train started up again and went on its way.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing more disgusting to watch someone eat on a train than sunflower seeds is Flamin Hot Cheetos! It's always the same routine: the person pulls out the bag, rips it open, grabs handfuls of them and crams them in his/her mouth (no doubt dropping a bunch of them on the floor and getting that red cheesy stuff all over the place) then either finds somewhere to wipe the layer of red stuff off their hands - like their pants or a seat- or, even worse, furiously sucking and licking his/her hands clean amid loud smacking noises. *shudder* Certainly I expected the same routine when I noticed a young lady pulling a $0.99 bag of Flamin Hots out of her bag. Little did I know, I was about to bear witness to an anomaly among train-eaters.

First, she gently and quietly pulled the bag open. As I braced myself for that loud plastic crunching noise caused when someone plunges their hand into the bag, I was relieved to hear only a slight crackle as she used only her index finger and thumb to extract the Flamin Hots a few at a time. No loud crunching, smacking and panting for this lady, folks; She could chew with her mouth closed! I was indeed relieved to see such a polite eater for a change, but relief gave way to amazement at what happened next. She dropped a cheeto, and actually reached down and picked it up!! She held placed it in her hand under the bag, and went back to eating. When she had emptied the bag, she placed the dropped cheeto inside of it, folded it up, and put it back into her bag. I thought to myself, "This is the moment of truth: She's either gonna smear that red crap all over the place or start sucking her thumb." However, her solution to the red-finger problem had me go from being mildly amused to absolutely shocked! She reached into her bag, pulled out a napkin and a bottled water, then dampened the napkin and used it to clean her fingers!! That's cheating!! She pulled the cheeto bag out again and put the dirty napkin inside, then finished off the water. At her stop, she walked out onto the platform, and took a couple of steps back to throw all of the empty containers into the garbage can! BRAVO!!!

If more people on the train would show such courtesy, then life would truly be a dream for us all!

rex -

See, I eat all the time on the train. For the most part I really only drink on transit, but if I do eat, I limit myself to a small snack when I've gone a long time without eating and don't want to feel nauseous on the train.

When I eat something more substantial, it's always something that's easy to handle and that won't smell up the entire car. While I'm not as meticulously clean as the person you described, I am very careful not to drop anything and I only eat if I have a seat to myself. I ALWAYS take my trash with me and throw it into a garbage can on my way out.
For this reason, I always get defensive when people start making a big deal about eating and drinking on the trains. Unless the CTA spends an inordinate amount of money and time ferreting out anyone riding the subway with a soda and bag of chips, the transit repast will never go away.

As such, I think making some kind of effort to get people to exercise the most basic courtesy towards fellow riders would pay off. The CTA installing trash cans on buses and trains and actually emptying them diligently would be a great start as would better customer communication. Making some token effort to clean the trains would help pave the way as well...

Southbound Ravenswood (aka Brown line; I'm old fashioned) mid-morning, car moderately full and Im siting in a window seat and my satchel on the seat next. Now I try to be courteous, notice if a train or bus getting full and remove my things so others can sit...I suppose this day I was quite lost in thought. However I'd think 'common courtesy' should prevail...for instance if a seat is occupied by someones things and if not an obvious inconvenience, I gesture and ask "May I?"

Well, at Addison a seemingly well dressed Asian woman, mid 30's boards and I notice her quite well as she wordlessly picked up my satchel from the seat and with force LITERALLY THREW IT AT ME! No 'excuse me' or anything - but it gets better! Im in shock and insulted at such crass behaviour and I give the woman a good piece of my mind in the short trip to my stop at Belmont. She sticks her fingers in her ears and loudly goes "BLAH BLAH BLAH" - irritating me even more and increasing my chastisement of her lack of manners and breeding. This scene went on perhaps 5 mins or so, until my stop at Belmont where (to be honest) I wished I had kicked her feet out of my way in exiting; but did not. I settled with pounding on the window and the 'single digit salute' - she replied by sticking out her toungue.

There are two others.

Purple Line; say 8AM and I get on at Wilmette; empty train car. A woman gets on; again well dressed and late 30's Id say. Angrily demands of me: "You're in my seat - will you move!" The train car is EMPTY save for her, me and one other. The request was preposterous; I said no. She called me a 'bastard' and sat elsewhere.

Rt 49B; N. Western bus; a route I (and the other) take very frequently. Say 5:45 PM; bus crowded, I wasn't wearing my watch. Again, its another well dressed woman, Asian, early 40's and all I do is ask for the time. To which I am completely ignored (and I know she has no hearing trouble, etc.) Just the stone cold silence of being completely ignored and feeling so despised by this woman for asking nothing more than the correct time of day. As in the fist case, I felt insulted to the point of making some curt remarks on the point of simple public courtesy; yet in this case I had my come-uppance for as said her and I ride the 49B often and whenever she gets on, she sees and recognizes me and while we have never talked, I feel a sense of embarassment from her from that day...

Well this was back about two yrs ago but I have seen this guy plenty of times afterwards, I was commuting from the Midway Orange Line station and as I came to Ashland, this guy dressed as Jesus, literally, in a purple robe, with a crown of thorns, carrying a huge wooden cross, came in and was speaking to a girl in Spanish about how he heard the devil in a Pink Floyd song and then decided to dress up like Jesus, he was also selling rosaries and Spanish Rock/Gospel CD's

jk1, I totally understand what you're saying, and I applaud your courtesy. However, with the exception of myself, you and the woman I mention are two of about 4 people I have ever seen eat politely on the bus/train. More importantly stress in my previous post is that I can honestly say that I have seldom seen anyone eat a bag of Flamin Hots with any kind of dignity, much less the courtesy which the afformentioned young lady exercised.

Dean: The endless parade of handsome men is what makes the CTA bearable. The car can be full of crazies, smell like pee, and have food wrappers all over the place but if there's few enticing backsides to view, who cares about a mess?

Riders of the Green Line, here's an alert the CTA isn't sharing with you: There has been a rash of robberies/purse snatching/push-and-grab thefts on the Green Line trains running between the Cicero and Central stations. Young men and youths roam through the train cars -- it's like watching a basketball pattern -- sit down, jump up, look around for individual victims. They each pick out someone, grab what they want just as the doors are opening, generally at Laramie, and run -- then get back on another train and do it some more.
This is happening during peak commuting hours, as well as later in the evening, I'm told.
So hold on to your stuff and keep your eyes open. If you hear the door between cars open and slam shut and youths are coming through your car, be especially alert. They pulled my bag out of my arms at 6:15 on a Wednesday evening -- 15 minutes after they got someone else's briefcase.
I spent Saturday at the police station looking at photographs. Depressing. But not as depressing as having to replace all my ID, keys, cell phone, credit cards.
And here's a news flash: the CTA security people can't communicate directly with the Chicago police -- they have to telephone each other and talk via dispatchers. So much for Homeland Security, huh?

How long does it take for a person to drive one mile with only two traffic lights and a hand full of cars? 3 minutes maybe. No, my bus driver took 7 minutes this morning. I don't think he went over 15 miles an hour in a 30 zone. He also stopped at every other bus stop for no reason at all.

I walked up the stairs on evening to go home on the Orange Line at the Randolph/Wabash stop. I witnessed this homeless man trying to pick pocket a woman's purse. She caught him and started to scream. I ran to tell a CTA employee. Can you beleive he had the nerve to tell me there was nothing he could do?! He had his radio in his hand! So much for the "If you see something say something" motto. They won't help you out.

As my roommate and I were coming home last night on a NB Red Line, this well-dressed young man who had been sitting with his eyes closed the whole ride got up around Wilson. He never made a sound as he vomited right next to the door. If he'd only waited 15 more seconds, he could have done it on the platform. The worst part was that even though we averted our eyes, there was this awful, vivid splashing sound. Gross. He got off at Wilson, but we got to keep that extra special part of him.

Oh, and then, apparently just to piss us off, the conductor announces at Loyola that the train will be running express to Howard. Why would a Red Line go express at at one a.m. for two stops? Perhaps it was the vomit? Since our stop is Morse, there was nothing to do but get off at Loyola and walk home. But this was highly conducive to the "Was the vomiting guy drunk or legitimately ill?" debate. As well as the "Which would we have more sympathy for?" discussion.

Drunkards vomiting in Shillerville?

As someone who used to commute from the Wilson stop every day, I have to say that it's unfortunately par for the course.

Words can't describe how much I hate passing through that area...

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