Turn your head and scoff

Posted on September 17, 2012


As a frequent rider of the CTA, I’m used to my fair share of — putting this mildly — memorable characters that frequent the trains and buses of the system. A good share of my transit time is spent on the morning commute, where at times I ride in a completely silent-yet-packed El car, only the occasional sneeze or sniffle to be heard.

But this morning, a particularly audible and odious passenger occupied more of my zone of personal space than I cared for. He boarded innocently enough — a decently dressed man in his late forties with a work bag, khakis and a plaid shirt. But not long after forcibly relocating me from my door-window vantage point, he let out a rather audible grunt and I could detect what I could only assume was booze reeking from him.

Not out of the ordinary, I thought. I grunt when I board a train car full of sweaty, hurried passengers, but I usually am able to stifle its audibility with a good dose of common sense.

My good friend the mystery passenger let on that perhaps the morning commute wasn’t the only negative factor this AM. He started coughing and grunting even more, perhaps the sign of an illness whose only cure would assuredly be the germ-killing alcohol that wafted from his body.

Again, I can’t fault anyone for being sick. But what I can chastise for is what he did — basically coughing into his hands and proceeding to rub them on every exposed surface around him — the pole to hold onto, the glass separating the entrance area from the seats. It was enough to make me wish I had a gallon of Purell to douse myself in served as further reinforcement of my habit of washing my hands whenever I ride the CTA.

Maybe my friend didn’t think he was limber enough to begin the day and needed to get some last minute stretching in before grabbing a cup o’ joe, but he then proceeded to do something resembling a calve-stretch by grabbing the separating panel next to the door and angled himself slightly downward in a pseudo combat-firing stance. In a closed-in train car with already limited personal space, this flourish was the icing on his booze-reeking, illness-riddled cake.

As the train pulled into the Chicago stop, he let out a small sigh of relief as he left the car. That makes two of us, buddy.

So for the children reading this post, let this be a lesson to always wash your hands after going into public spaces. And for the adults out there, save your disgusting behavior for a place it really belongs — the bus.


Posted in: Lakeview