Wednesday, April 05, 2006

the joys of public transit

This morning was a special sensory commute. I got on the El at Howard St., a little later than normal, figuring the train would be half empty as it was at the same hour yesterday. Wrong. Everyone else was running late too.

I had a seat to myself for 10 minutes, then soap lady got on. She was decently dressed, but smelled like she'd lathered up with Irish Spring and hadn't washed it off. Phew! Sometimes I notice soapy-smelling people on the train, but she was more potent than most. She got off at Belmont.

Her replacement was a guy in a long, bulky leather jacket, pockets bulging with stuff. Always special to have saddlebags pressing into one's leg. At least he wasn't an extra-wide-leg-spreader or bathed in nicotine. Thought I'd caught a break. No such luck. Got a different kind of fragrance, a more gaseous kind. Hoped it would only be one. Nope. Every minute or two, another SBD (silent but deadly).

Time for a zen breathing exercise - breathing very slowly, trying to tune out outside sounds and smells, while facing away as much as possible in limited space. If the train were less crowded, I would have gotten up to stand somewhere else and play another round of scent roulette.

Fart guy got off one stop before me. The air cleared immediately when he stepped away and the doors opened.

If I am truly lucky, I'll score a single seat on the way home, with no fart guy, soap lady, nicotine bather or loud cell phone yapper. That would be public transit nirvana.


Trope said...

Isn't it amazing who you will find on the el? Each line seems to have its own personality. The blue line is pretty tame for most of my route, and although I don't like being underground the subway stops mean that at least the cell phones are silenced for several stations. I really hope they never wire the tunnels for cell access.

Came over via Windy City Blues--hi!

Fargo said...

Hi Trope - Thanks for coming over.

Yes, the El lines really do have distinct personalities. I ride the red line most often, but in the course of a year I ride them all. When visiting friends across town, I'd much rather take my bike or ride the El and read than sit in a car in traffic.

On most days, I think the red line provides as much amusement as annoyance. On weekend nights, especially in summer, it can be a source of infinite entertainment, a circus on wheels.

I hope they never ever activate cell access in the tunnels. Just might increase the number of assaults and homicides.

As noisy as the subway is, it provides welcome relief from cell phone yappers.

DMG said...

Wow! Suburban Transit is dull.
The Pace 626 (Express from Dempster to Buffalo Grove)is filled with sleepers, and people deep into their iPods.
Haven't had any thing wierd since the dirtbags who were huffing spraypaint. That was five years ago.
(Yep: spraypaint.)

Fargo said...

The red line isn't usually boring. Sometimes that's a good thing. Sometimes I wish for boredom. The only time I usually get it is northbound at rush hour, when most folks going as far as Howard take the Evanston Express, and the red line cars get fairly empty north of Granville.