Thursday, November 20, 2008

I love me some bus

I am the Queen of Public Transportation.

Hedy, I thought you were the Queen of Potato Chips. What happened?

Right. I’m trying to cut back.

I figure if Da can quit smoking cold turkey after the Big Cancer Scare of 2008, then I can lay off the Lays.

So yeah. Queen of Public Transportation.

A rather dubious distinction. But I am reveling in it.

Let me explain.

This new job involves getting from the far west suburbs to the River North neighborhood of Chicago by 8:30 every morning.

If you’re not familiar with Chicagoland, think of my daily commute as a less humorous version of Trains, Planes and Automobiles minus the planes and the jolly dead fat dude but with considerably more cussing.

It’s really not that bad. But it is long.

And the only reason I do it is because my new job is off-the-charts fabulous. Seriously.

You know that one warm oozy chocolate chip left on the cookie sheet that you swipe up realquick and lick off your finger?

That’s me. Sitting at my desk every day. A glob of yummy smiling goodness. It’s true.


Here’s my morning: Car to train station. Walk walk walk. Train. Walk walk walk. Public transportation. Walk walk walk. Office.

If I leave the house at 6:45, I’m in the office by 8:30. Yep. It’s nearly two hours. But again, the job totally rocks my cookie sheet so it’s worth it.
Lately I’ve been learning ways to cut down on the commute time.

Back roads to avoid lights. Shortcuts in and out of the station to avoid heavy people traffic.

And the bus. The glorious #11 Chicago Transit Authority bus.

I sure do love me some bus.

It’s way better than the El – which is our version of the subway, only some parts are on elevated track, thus the name. The El is cold. Inefficient. On good days it smells like stale farts. And strangers stare coldly at you like This is My Train MotherFucker and you don’t belong.

The bus is warm, comfy, and efficient. It smells like…bus. And my fellow commuters either smile at me or ignore me; either way it’s perfect.

Plus, I use the CTA Bus Tracker web site from my iPhone so I always know when my next rolling vessel of cozy comfort will arrive. It’s wonderful.
I don’t know why, but there’s something homey about being on a bus. I originally thought it might have something to do with elementary school – the only other time in my life I’ve required the use of public transportation – but I don’t think that’s it.

Here’s why.

My two most vivid bus-related memories from childhood involve: 1. Me calling Jeff Conklin a wiener and getting in Seriously Big His-Mom-Calls-My-Mom Trouble for it, and 2. Jumping off the back end of the bus during a safety drill without allowing Brian Cuker (gross!) to hold my hand and help me down and getting in Seriously Big Get-Back-On-the-Bus-and-Do It-Again Trouble for it.

See? Not so much on the early childhood bus memories.
Here's the coolest thing about public transportation: You can GO EVERYWHERE. CHEAP.

I bop down to the Loop for lunch and back to my office for just $2. A cab ride for the same trip is around $12.

Better still, Google maps features directions using public transportation with departure/arrival times and everything. So now whenever I have to go somewhere downtown, I always check to see if public transportation is an option before grabbing a cab.

I know. Public transportation. Someone once said I'm easily amused. It's totally true.

So to recap: Warm oozy goodness at work in spite of the commute. And lovin' the magical mystery bus.
I am listening to: Shake Your Groove Thing - Peaches & Herb
I am reading: Neil Steinberg on Dr. Seuss today
And I am: All warm and melty lately


Posolxstvo I said...

I have never had a job that was worth that long of a commute. Hell, I've had a few jobs where I lived less than a mile from where I worked and they weren't worth THAT commute.

I am jealous of you.

LBB said...

There is a real possibility that we will be moving to Chicago in a few years. If you'll show me around the public transit options, I will gratefully buy you several drinks. =)

fermicat said...

The usefulness of public transit varies greatly. In Atlanta, not all that useful to me, except when I am going to the airport. I used to take it to school when I went back for a MS degree, because it was cheaper than buying a parking pass. It doesn't go anywhere near where I work now.

But when I went to Boston in September, I bought a T-pass and went damn near everywhere by train. Easy, easy. And I felt much safer and far less conspicuous than I do when riding transit in the ATL.

Hedy said...

Pos: Remember my last job? Yeah. Not worth walking across the street for, so I know. This new place is something else. But I can't talk about it too much because I'm afraid I'm going to wake up.

LBB: Of course! How exciting - you will love it here. I'll make sure you know your way around.

F-Cat: The worst city for public transportation (no surprise here) is Detroit. It's truly pathetic.