Tuesday, March 14, 2006

On A Downtown Train

Perhaps it is time for the CTA (Chicago's public transportation system) to adopt the same policy as most airlines: only two pieces of carry-on per person. The trains and buses are already overcrowded. Add to that the additional bulk of winter coats and there is little room for paraphernalia.

From the "Sometimes You Just Have To Take A Cab" Department: this morning a woman in her early 30's boarded the Brown Line train to The Loop at Fullerton. Fullerton is a huge boarding spot, last chance to change from the red and purple lines when going downtown. Most people on the train in the morning have either a backpack (which should be removed as there is always less space at the feet than at the chest) or a briefcase of somekind. This woman, let's call her Tiffani-with-an-"i" (because I hate that name and I kinda hate this woman a little too), boarded the train wearing her down-filled puffy coat, with a full back pack flung over her shoulders, carrying a gym bag, a huge purse (visible were a pair of pumps and a water bottle), a nylon lunch box, AND she was carrying a coffee.

Tiffani pushed her way onto the train, the way short, blonde, over-achieving women do (you know the type - you see them at 5:30 fastwalking their ponytailed selves to a yoga class in their desperate attempt to do it all). Her iPod was blaring in her ears so she was oblivious to the scowls and snarls directed at her from the other passengers. She was also wearing sunglasses, so it's hard to say if she ever made eye contact with anyone.

When the train reached the Chicago stop and a mass of people tried to disembark around her, she took half a step forward in what she thought was an attempt to move out of the way. People had to hurdle the gym bag, dodge the purse, then try to bypass the backpack which made Tiffani twice as thick as she really was. You had to go through Navy SEAL training to get around her. At least two people could not get off of the train before the doors closed and had to go an extra stop. A chorus of "Great, thanks a LOT!" just rang on deaf ears.

Needless to say, Tiffani-with-an-"i" was not popular this morning.

Just like there is no one really watching or paying much attention to the security of the CTA, there is no one to monitor how much physical baggage someone brings with him/her. A person with a bicycle would not have taken up as much room as Tiffani, however bikes are not allowed during rush hour, and even then only two per car.

No one likes riding the CTA - it's a matter of convenience for some, necessity for others. And in our efforts to try to make our world a better place, the Tiffanies of this world should realize that sometimes, you just have to take a cab.