I have a borrowed theory that everyone on public transportation is either miserable or acting like they’re miserable. I also have a theory that everyone is awkward, or at the very least, acts awkwardly. Point in case: last week on the train. I rarely take the train, but boy I am glad I did. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have overheard these gems.
Three best things overheard on the CTA last week
1. Business lingo
Scene: Brown Line, between Chicago and Sedgwick
Cast: Two (presumably) Lincoln Park girls
Dialogue: “I tried to google to find out the difference between a CEO and a COO. And I’m still confused!
2. Shirtless in Chicago
Scene: Red Line, around the Granville stop
Cast: Conductor to a particular passenger on a moderately full train
Dialogue: “Sir, I’m going to need you to put your shirt on.”
3. City talks
Scene: Red Line, around Lawrence
Cast: Three fashionable young guys in their mid-20s
Dude #1: “There’s a great view of the Chicago skyline there.”
Dude#2: “What’s a skyline?”
I’ve been proven wrong.
It happens often, trust me. But if you’ve known me for a few years, you know I have a weird fascination about the lack of interaction on the CTA. I’ve even written on the subject before (what happened to Jargon Chicago, btw?). It’s a conundrum to me as to why no one talks—or even looks—at each other while riding the CTA. People are content to be a part of the iPod (now iPhone) army and politely ignore each other. I take that back. People are not content, they’re pretty miserable. I get it, but the silence freaks me out.
So, you’ll imagine my surprise when, yesterday on the train, the unexpected occurred. A woman who was taking up the whole seat with her newspaper removed it and then offered me a seat. Haven been spoiled the last few years by taking the cushy Michigan Ave. buses and having a seat every day, I gladly accepted. Right around the Fullerton stop, the train stalled (surprise!). And then it happened—perfect strangers made conversation. Leave it to complaining about the CTA to ignite the conversation…but it happened. A woman to my right made a comment about the city and inefficiency of the CTA. Conversation ensued! She and the woman to my left chatted about the Olympics, Buckingham Fountain, corrupt politicians and even Uptown apartments. And when the woman to my right got off the train, the woman sharing my seat started chatting with me. Yowzas!
The moral of the story? Misery breeds misery, but it also breeds conversation. Want to start a conversation on the train? Just complain about your ride.