I hear ya, Job

Posted on October 13, 2012


After some fairly devastating girl problems last night, followed by some celebrating of a good friend’s birthday combined with commiserating over aforementioned girl problems, I was more than ready to saddle up and take the train back home for some recuperation and relaxation.

My usual route to the Metra is to take the Belmont bus all the way west to the blue line, take the blue line several stops north and pick up the Metra at Jefferson Park. A little segmented, but I’ve found it shaves off about 15 minutes versus taking the El all the way to the loop and walking to Ogilvie.

I usually give myself 45 minutes for the westbound bus ride but, given the unusually dismal trend events had taken last night, I gave myself a couple extra minutes to hopefully account for any additional transit woes typical of the CTA.

I boarded the bus and we started westward, but we only made it a couple blocks before I realized, to my horror, that construction crews were not only tearing up Halsted perpendicular to our path, but they’d also decided to close down Clark as well one more street down. We inched along down to Sheffield and the brown line, a trek I’ve usually walked the last couple days because it was faster than the bus.

OK, I thought as we cleared the gridlock, we made it out and my couple extra minutes have been accounted for. Let’s burn rubber.

Apparently the bus driver was perfectly in tune with my thought patterns, because he turned on the warp engines and hauled ass for the next several blocks. So much so that it prompted the woman at the front of the bus, who I soon wanted to punch in her stupid face, to chide the bus driver, “Slow down, you’re going too fast.”

Luckily he didn’t listen to her and we made record time to the blue line, so much so that it was the first time I was compelled to exit the front of the bus and give the driver a hearty “Thank you.”

Usually my hookup to the blue line is fairly smooth — a train arrives not long after I get in the station. But, this being part of a particularly unfortunate turn of events, meant that not only did my transit pass not work in the turnstile and I had to have the attendant let me in, but the train also was 8 minutes away. It was 10:38. My Metra was at 10:48. Checking the train tracker, I found that Metra’s characteristic tardiness might actually work in my favor for once — the train was two minutes late.

Feeling like this was going to be a pretty close connection but still pretty good with my chances, I saw the El headlights in the tunnel, approaching the platform.

And then they stopped. In the tunnel. You’ve gotta be kidding me, I thought. They stood there glaring at us in the tunnel for a good five minutes. I could practically see the driver painting a giant middle finger on the front of the train.

And then it did something I’d never seen an El do before — it switched tracks in the tunnel and chugged in on the other side of the platform, still presumedly going north to O’Hare. I boarded, somewhat perplexed, and as we chugged off I saw that for the next couple stations, one set of tracks was closed so trains were going single file. Of course they were.

When we reached Irving Park, two El stops away from Jefferson Park and one Metra stop away, I looked out the window, and, to my horror (again), saw my Metra train sitting in the station. There was no way I could get off the El and make it to the Metra because there’s an expressway between the two stations. But I still harbored a glimmer of hope that Jefferson Park would work out because the two stations are connected by a walkway. It was just a matter of whether the El could beat the Metra there.

And we both took off. It was like a race from the movies as I constantly glared at the Metra next to us. We were picking up speed! After the next tunnel, we were ahead of the Metra, but there was the problem of Montrose — the extra El station.

Montrose came and went, the trains were still neck-and-neck, and my hopes of making the 10:48 and not having to spend the next two hours at McDonald’s still up in the air.

As we pulled into Jefferson Park, I did some light stretching by doors. I knew I would have to take off out of the doors like a greyhound at a racetrack and haul some incredible ass to make it to the Metra.

The train stopped. The doors opened. And down the stretch I went! Practically hurdling over the turnstile, I rounded the corner, thrust open the door to the stairs leading up to the Metra platform, took them two at a time and opened the one last door to see the Metra waiting at the station…

… And its doors closed literally one second before I got to them. In disbelief and hoping that my trek might have a Hollywood happy ending, I started pounding on the doors, screaming at the train. I saw a Metra conductor standing in the foyer but, in characteristic Metra customer service fashion, he didn’t notice me. Or if he didn’t notice me, he didn’t care.

And the train rolled off.

I couldn’t believe it. If any single one of the events that led me there could have shaved off literally three seconds, I would have caught the train. But as it was, I was standing there, hyperventilating and helpless to keep the shittiness of last night and this morning from catching up with me.

So I kind of stumbled down to the concrete. And I started to cry. It was a weird kind of crying — a kind of deep wheezing punctuated by the occasion moan and sob. I didn’t care because I was all alone in my little world of futility and hopelessness — except for those two people on the bench next to me who quickly moved on.

As I began to mentally get myself together, I started thinking about how I’d spend the next two hours waiting for the next train. There was a McDonald’s nearby, maybe I could indulge my poor emotions with some trans-fat-filled deliciousness. Maybe I could even do some blogging. Besides, how could this awful morning get any worse?

Then it started raining.



Posted in: Lakeview