Thursday, June 19, 2008

And so Commuterology Begins. Start reading Here.

I catch my train at precisely 6:03 AM, CST. It’s always on time to my stop. The stops after it may vary, but it’s always 6:03 on the dot when I catch the train.

Forgive me for my laziness, I think as I board the early train. I got up twenty minutes before I had to leave and barely made it out of the shower in time to finish getting ready for work. Half of my routine is done on the train, where I find ample time to apply my makeup and make myself somewhat presentable for my job in downtown Chicago. Gotta look the part, you know.

When I first began this commute I remember thinking, “This will be great. I can sleep for an hour and a half before I walk from the train station to work, so it won’t even be like I get up at 5:00 am every morning. I get that extra hour and a half!” WRONG. Not only is the train horribly cold (and I, a pansy who can’t stand to be freezing) but by three stops into my trip, we’re packed like sardines waiting to exit the train like lemmings. Pay attention, lemmings are a theme.

There are a few more reasons I don’t sleep on the train. Have you ever seen someone who is sleeping on public transportation? We’re all guilty of judging someone who unabashedly snores, drools, twitches, or mumbles in their sleep, oblivious to the world watching them. Ew. I don’t want to be that girl.

The most significant reason I don’t sleep on the train? Commuterology. Studying those around me. My fellow commuters, in their natural habitat. It seems only natural for me to write about it and share my observations with the world, not because of some profound breakthrough I hope to have regarding the behavior of Chicago land commuters, and not because of some special knowledge I wish to impart, but simply because every day I find I have another story worth telling. It may make you chuckle at its absurdity, or laugh so hard you almost lose control of your bladder. Either way, these stories need to be told.

I have found one runs into the same characters (and trust me, they most certainly are characters) on a daily commute. My list of characters is based on personalities I observe. Don’t worry, I don’t use their real names because a) I don’t know them, b) it’s rude to announce this these stories to the world and identify who these people are, c) I intend to keep everyone anonymous, and d) nicknames are just a lot more fun and add to the story. I’ll keep a list and a brief character description, don’t worry. This is my journal. I do not intend to exploit or embarrass, only to observe and report. Take from it what you will.


It’s the first day of my commute. I’m not really sure what to think. As I board the train from the platform at exactly 6:03, I notice how many familiar faces I see already. Trying to place the memories from the faces I recognize I count them one by one. Five. There are five people I went to high school with on this train. Yay. It’s high school reunion Tuesday. At 6 in the morning.

I decided to sit on the top deck of the train. No one will bother me there. Unfortunately, my view of everyone is obstructed by the deck. The man across from me has a banana and juice…I wonder if he’ll have that every day? There’s a lady who is crocheting like a speed demon. Seriously. Aaaannnnd the conductor looks like he stole Tom Selleck’s mustache. (Shudder).


Maybe today will be a bit better. I need to route a way on my walk to stop for starbucks. That would be FABULOUS. Man, everyone is really SLOW today. I can’t believe how many people just wander, wander, lolly gag, whatever you want to call it. Don’t they know how many people are in a hurry?

In line at Starbucks to order my iced tall Americano in a grande cup (extra room, you know) the same girl winds up in front of me every morning. Venti decaf Americano (seriously?) with a non-fat foam topper. What the heck is a non-fat foam topper? I don’t know. I give a LOT of credit to the baristas who can repeat that order back without laughing. Why doesn’t she just order a latte. Or not order coffee at all? Oh! I forgot to mention she asks for two splendas. Yesssss. She makes me smile. As do the baristas who are starting to recognize my because of my need for constant caffeination.


Tom Selleck seems to stare at me a lot. It's so weird. I'm usually in a nasty high school tshirt, sneakers, and my dress pants for work. No makeup. So weird. Actually, now that I think of it, and a friend mentioned to me this was his mental picture of said train conductor, he really looks more like the guy from the Wedding Planner—you know, Adam Sandler’s best friend? It’s pretty humorous. I pop in my headphones—this morning it was Imogen Heap—and look out the window whenever he comes to check train passes. He stares, trying to get me to smile at him or acknowledge him. I supposed I’m pretty cold and rude, but honestly, the mustache creeps me out. He can’t be more than 30 years old. Did I mention his soul patch? That’s right. Creepster 80’s stache + soul patch = interesting Tuesday morning, that’s for sure. P.S. Banana and juice guy? He does, in fact, have a banana and juice every morning. Kind of interesting.

1 comment:

  1. i myself have a bad mustache plus soul patch. it is modeled after facial hari styles of the civil war.

    steve anderson