Transit Stories

A while ago I happened to be riding the el somewhere with a friend, and he introduced me to his fun “so long as I have nothing to do on the el” game, which can be mostly summed up with “making shit up about the people around you.”

As an example: a gaggle of frat boys climbed aboard; we spent a happy ten minutes describing to each other the fabulous story of these gentlemen’s lives to each other, and giggling madly. Hey, it’s a rare thing that anyone can pull off wearing nothing but paisley boxers and a bow tie while at brunch, but that one kid did a damn fine job.

At least, in our heads he did.

I’m occasionally very jealous of everyone who’s posted a story up at This Is Grand. Why is it that my transit stories are never so cool? Seriously. About the best story I’ve got is a lovely conversation I had with a clearly crazy man on the green line, headed south from the loop until he disembarked at 47th, or the ubiquitous socks hucksters. Or the innumerable times I’ve sat waiting at 4 AM for the blue line at Damen, after a hard night of pretending I’m so much cooler than all those hipsters around me, waiting for those headlights and the singing of the rails to signify I’m going home soon.

(As an aside: what is it with the socks guys? Does anyone really get on the el and realize, oh shit, I forgot, I need to buy a six-pack of white crew socks, and I can’t get to Target before work? I mean, have you?)

Nobody ever does anything noteworthy when I’m in the car. I’m starting to feel a little bit left out. I mean, it’s not like the time my freshman year in college when — simply chock full of spit and vinegar! — I chose as an English 161 paper topic “Graffiti as Communication” and went spelunking in the subway tunnels looking for tags to photograph. I mean, that wasn’t actually on a train. It’s not even like the time when, still enamoured with Chicago, my new love and hometown, I took an out-of-town friend to Zorba’s for gyros and we rode the blue line up to O’Hare and back just ‘cos I thought that the el was the coolest thing ever. My friends have great stories. They get into screaming matches with religious zealots. One occasion, my one friend actually was the crazy man on the train.

I need stories. And I’m starting to feel like I exude anti-noteworthy-behavior rays. I know that, somewhere out there, there’s a transit story with my name on it. I just have to find it.

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