CTA Laws

Awesome Chicago el stop poster image from rebeccaplotnik's Etsy shop

As a proud, flag-flying resident of the Windy City, nothing irritates me more than those who scoff at public transportation. Fine, I don’t own a flag. I do, however, own a CTA pass that gets me pretty much everywhere I need to go and saves me a ton of moolah (the better to shop with, my dear!). It may smell once in a while and true, I won’t take it alone after 10pm, but I consider myself awfully lucky to have the option.

Like any relationship, my love of the CTA comes with a fairly extensive list of complaints. However, my fellow riders are most often to blame, not the system itself. Here’s my list of grievances/strong suggestions of how to be less of a jerk when utilizing my beloved Chicago Transit Authority.

On Backpacks

Most backpacks are roughly the same width as a person. They essentially become bulky, pushy extra bodies with no sense of personal space on any kind of crowded, public vehicle when strapped to the back of an oblivious student. I’ve been knocked over by many an overpacked Jansport during the morning rush hour. I get that you need your books, your gym gear, your laptop – whatever it is. But here’s a simple solution: take it. the eff. off your back. Be a decent human being and put it between your feet.

On Cellphones

Hey guy – you’re important! I get it! Your client needed a recap of that meeting and goshdarnit there’s no time like the present…. nevermind that there’s 100 other people squished into close proximity forced to listen in. And PR girl?  NOMG she did not. Seriously, I don’t believe it. I cannot fathom how people are okay with subjecting a carful of strangers to their personal and work lives. In my humble opinion, there’s really not many conversations that can’t wait the whopping 10 minutes it takes to get most places on the CTA. I’ve yet to hear, “I’m on the way to the hospital RIGHT NOW!” However, I did have the distinct pleasure of overhearing a VERY flirty first date arranged courtesy of jDate on the 145 one evening.

On Chivalry

Its dead. This case is closed* thanks to Chicago’s red line in rush hour.

* “closed” having a TINY margin of error. Those gentleman in the margin who spring out of their seats for an elderly lady are universally loved and aw-ed at by all fellow female riders… I’m often surprised that more men don’t recognize this and are not at least opportunistic gentlemen.

On the etiquette of sitting

Girls, for the love of all things holy, please be more aware of the way you are sitting when wearing a skirt. Channel your grandmother and cross your ankles. Its awkward! Guys, I get that your anatomy is not conducive to sitting with your knees together so as not to take up 75% more than your allotted seat space with your knee-span. I have no suggestions for you here. Rather, I ask that we all recognize right here and right now – you are clearly the more selfish sex.

On iPods

In all honesty, sometimes hearing the tinny beats of Jay Z blasting out of some nerdy business dude’s crappy headphones can really start my morning off with a smile. But the majority of the time, if I’m hearing your music, there’s a good chance I hate it. And you, especially if I haven’t made it to Starbucks yet. Nevermind the damage you’re clearly doing your poor little eardrums – consider that your love of the Biebs may not be universal, believe it or not. And not only that, but I don’t want to poke a stranger. Its gross. Lets leave that to teenagers on Facebook. If I have to poke you on the shoulder because I’ve said, “excuse me!” eighteen times, your Glee soundtrack is out of control and you better not take it personally when I whip out the hand sanitizer on my way out.

On a More Positive Note

So now that I’ve ranted like one of the crazy bums that camp out in the cubby near the door to the red line el cars… its really not all bad. Here’s a few quick things that I love about the CTA:

  • When the driver or conductor says something nice over the intercom, like: “I know its Monday, but have a great day!” or “Stay warm out there!” Aww.
  • The rare sighting of the above-mentioned able bodied man (or woman!) leaping out of their seat to give it up to someone that needs it more… and brushing it off with, “I’m getting off soon anyway.”
  • Craiglist CTA Missed Connections. Pure literary gold.
  • The $2 tour of some of the most beautiful views of the city from the Brown Line.
  • The Holiday Train! I have yet to catch it, but I like knowing its there and I am DETERMINED to find it this year.

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5 thoughts on “CTA Laws

  1. Despite all the negatives, I am SO jelly that you have good public transportation. In Southern California, you can’t get anywhere without a car. I would be willing to put up with the Biebs for a little more moolah for my shopping habit.

  2. I’m taking note and appreciate your sage wisdom. I solemnly swear to follow your CTA laws as I continue to use and LOVE public transpo.

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