Saturday, September 10, 2011

Riding the CTA

I'm a native Californian. Until two months ago when I arrived in Chicago with no car I have never ridden a bus or train except as a rare lark. Now public transportation is my only means of getting from here to there. Fortunately, the Chicago Transit Authority is rightly celebrated as being one of the best transit systems in the world. You can get anywhere, from here to there... and then from there to there further, on to there elsely and, eventually, your destination... if you just have a map, a transit schedule, a compass, an Eagle Scout badge and a the patience of Job. Through a simple yet sometimes confusing series of transfers and queries for direction you will eventually arrive for just $2.25, total plus a quarter for unlimited transfers.

You just have think of it as an adventure.

On the CTA you can set out for a Sunday farmers market and return home nine hours later with two fully ripened avocados.

You can haul a package to the post office and have it arrive at grandma's house in Des Moines before you reach your front porch.

One day I didn't feel like walking the two blocks to the train station so I took another train to get there even though it took half an hour and I had to stand the entire way, crushingly, intimately close to a bunch of people to whom I had not been introduced.

I'm sure this all sounds terrible to my California friends and family but I am saving several hundred dollars a month by not buying gas. And frankly, being alone in the big city I have nothing but time on my hands. I've read two full books while riding trains and buses. Plus, I've met some -- shall we say interesting? -- people.

More on that later. I have to be at work in three hours and it's twelve miles away. I must run to catch my rides!

Copyright 2011, David L. Williams

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