A train derailed on the brown line just a little ways south of the Belmont train station this morning. Like 10 minutes before I left for work.
8:45 – I step outside of my building and walk to the corner of Clark and Belmont. Even from here, I can see a mass of flashing lights at the train station a block and a half away – emergency vehicles arranged on the street underneath and train sitting silently on the overpass.
This presented a unique problem for me, being someone who is heavily dependent upon the Brown and Purple lines to commute to and from work each day. On days when I am running a little behind, I’ll usually grab a taxi instead as losing 15 bucks generally is preferable to the wagging fingers I might see upon arriving at work late. Today, however, I was somewhat screwed on both accounts. Given the mass exodus of Lakeview-ers who were, like me, unable to board the train at Belmont, the corner of my apartment was literally flooded with pedestrians both confused about what was happening and tripping over one another to steal cabs. It was like Godzilla was attacking our individual city block, threatening to vaporize all the bongs, dildos, and frozen yogurt we hold so dear.
8:50 – “I’ll walk down to Halsted,” I thought, “surely it hasn’t occurred to anyone else to look for a cab one block east of here!” I thought this, obviously, because I am a self-denying idiot. Naturally there were a ton of people here as well, so I kept walking. I became someone (embarassingly) panicked, thinking to myself, “how the fuck am I going to get to work?!” I figured I could walk down to Lakeshore drive and jump on a bus, but even then I wasn’t exactly sure where I could get off and pick up another bus to take me anywhere near the office. Why I didn’t stop somewhere for 2 seconds and look up information on my cell phone is beyond me.
8:57 – I happen to spot a stopped bus across the street as I near Broadway, still aimlessly wandering down Belmont. This was the 156 to Union Station, my unwitting savior. The bus sign flashed that it was heading to union station “by way of La Salle”. Hooray! I work right there almost! I happily shuffle onto the bus, almost giddy that I noticed it completely on accident. Not only that, but I’m the first one on. I get to pick any seat I want!
9:00 – As others join me on the bus, I get up and ask the driver when the bus actually departs. He responds emphatically that this bus stays put until 9:30.
9:01 – Angry birds.
9:30 – The bus leaves, thank God.
9:32 – The first of many stops on the route downtown. A woman with a double-wide stroller boards the bus, welcomed by the groans of an old lady seated near the front who has to tuck her feet in slightly to make room for the helpless children who are clearly there to inconvenience her.
9:35 – We continue on our way, the bus fills more and more with each stop. These happen at what feels like 30-second intervals. I begin contemplating how screwed I am in terms of what time I’ll finally make it to the office.
9:45 – The lady next to me on the bus gets a phone call from someone. As you can expect from anyone on a cell phone in public, she talks at full volume. She describes to the person on the phone that she has been forced to cram onto the bus due to “this stupid train business”. I can make out the man on the other end saying that he is actually stuck on a train north of the Belmont station and has no idea when it will be able to move. She responds bitterly, “At least YOU aren’t late for work AND soaking wet!” The lady with the stroller shoots her a dirty look, as does the guy across from me who looks like Jake “The Snake” Roberts. She proceeds to drone on and on to this poor chump on the phone for the next 10 minutes about how shitty her day is going to turn out because of this and how it is unacceptable that the trains have to be stopped altogether because one track is derailed.
- This poor bastard is literally trapped on a CTA train somewhere on the north side. He literally has nothing better to do that listen to this woman complain about her less impactful situation. I wonder if he really is so bored on the train that he would rather listen than hang up.
- She doesn’t understand why they have to disable all of the ELECTRIC TRAIN TRACKS in order for workers to help people off the train and get the car back on the right tracks. Hopefully she has yet to procreate.
9:57 – The lady with the gigantic stroller needs to depart the bus. Everyone is furious. Eyes roll, people exclaim “coming off” in the snarkiest tones possible, and a round Mexican lady literally refuses to lift her bag off the floor, prompting the bus driver to yell at her. The mother herself is clearly embarrassed, alternately thanking and apologizing to everyone continually until she is off the train. The old lady who originally sneered at her states “thank god” at full volume.
10:15 – The bus finally reaches La Salle and Adams, which is as close as I am going to get to the office. It’s actually pretty close, I really lucked out. As I sidle out of my seat and head to the back door of the bus to wait my turn to exit, I notice the shrew sitting next to me has not moved over. She rather plopped right back down on the outside seat in hopes that nobody would try to sit next to her. As I’m finally leaving the bus, it seems she got her wish. Best I can gather, everyone on the bus collectively decided they didn’t want to make her miserable day any worse.