Thursday, May 08, 2008

Chicago 5/08/08

What a difference five minutes makes! My commute is pretty long in general. I don’t mind it as it’s just all a part of the routine. I start by taking the Chicago bus to Milwaukee, followed by the Blue Line to Clark/Lake followed by a walk to the Metra. Then Metra to Wheaton, and a car to the Lab.


Let’s just talk about the first half or rather first 1/5 of the commute. The bus ride.

Does everyone on the west side of Chicago get up at the same time. And is that time five minutes later than my preferred awaking time. I like to be up and out of bed at 6am, that gets me out of the house at 6:40. There is a bus that gets to my stop at about 6:45 and it’s just about empty. I mean I have an extra seat for my bags kind of empty. I would say I got this routine down and for the past week or so have been sticking to it.

This morning however, in some kind of fog I got up exactly five minutes late. Meaning that I was out the door at 6:45, and thus missing by 6:45am bus. I even looked east and saw the butt of the bus a few blocks away. Damn. So I wait a little bit and about 5 minutes later here comes another bus. I’m not kidding, so crowded I was squeezed on there single sardine in the middle of a can (bad analogy right? I’m not on my game this early).

There are all kinds of people on the bus, pushing and shoving and vying for space. Of course there is no space, and my two bags are taking up their own kind of space. I push my way to the back. Then there is the issue of someone needing to get off the bus, I’m climbing onto people’s laps to get out of the way so they can get to the exit door, as there is no where else for me to go.

The train is still relatively empty, and when I get downtown, five minutes later than I have’s SO busy. Usually I can just jaunt across the street because there is no traffic. This morning the cars, delivery trucks and the bike messengers are all whizzing by me, my hair blowing in my face as they go by. Chicago is a busy bustling town and it’s one of the things I love about it. I am just in awe of the difference a few minutes makes in where the people end up. Instead of finishing off a breakfast meal or whatever, they are pushing and shoving their way into town.

People will read this and think to themselves, “How can you stand it?” All those crowds, being pushed onto people’s laps just to get to work? Everything is easier out of town where you don’t have to deal with that!” To which I would reply, because in the end it’s actually always easier. I would rather have an annoying 10 minute bus ride (sometimes) than be stuck in the suburbs where you HAVE to have a car to get around. Everything in the city is accessible on a bus line, a train line or the two footed motor...a walk away. For example, there are three different grocery stores in my neighborhood, a big Dominicks (which is funny already because to a Suburban it’s very small) a half mile away, a Ukrainian deli next door, and a small grocer two blocks away. All of those are within walking distance and thus I don’t need to drive to the grocery store. I will admit having a car in the city is useful at time. However, what makes the deal for me is that I don’t HAVE to drive anywhere to do anything. Ever.

A ten minute annoyance does not make a lifestyle. My lifestyle is all of Chicago and you have to take the good with the bad. In this chosen life, the good far outweighs the bad.

From now on, though I’ll just try to stick to my 6am wakeup call.

1 comment:

Margo said...

I would love it if Houston had a useful rail system. Ours is almost pointless because it just goes from downtown to the medical center to Reliant Stadium (football). Not really helpful for getting to other parts of Houston. I hate driving and would much prefer to take public transportation. Our buses are a joke!

BTW - loved David Simon's Homicide! Really great read.