As anyone who has read this blog knows, a good portion of it is dedicated to venting about people that have shown some sort of incompetence. Whether it’s in line at the grocery store, on a crowded bus, or on my computer or television in the form of “news,” and “celebrities,” pretty much everyone I have any sort of contact with who isn’t one of my immediate friends or family is a fucktard in my mind.
Although I spend a lot of time seething over other’s idiocy, rest assured, I’m hardly sitting on some high horse. I mean, this morning, I went to put on my rainboots as I was determined not to fall on my ass yet again and found a dollar bill, three bottle caps, and two crumpled up drawings of clowns that appeared to be in jail jammed in the foot. Despite not having children to blame this on, I wasn’t surprised. So believe me, my glass castle shattered some moons ago. Despite this, I still have no problem calling out the general public on their inadequacies and dumbfuckery at the grocery store or on the bus. However, I’ve had a few incidents in the past week or so which have me think that perhaps I’m being a tad judgmental. And that sometimes? I’m the fucktard.
Incident #1 – Dominicks.
Earlier this week, I made my daily stop to Dominicks after work. There appeared to be four thousand people in the store, and the lines were already about 15 deep. I got hit with a cart, blocked by a trio of elderly ladies debating the merits of their yogurt brands, accosted by someone posing as a medical professional who wanted to check my spine, and almost exploded from holding in profanity whilst waiting for the cutesy couple in front of me to figure out how to pull a produce bag off the roll. (Hint – it’s not by standing there and giggling, “OMG! I ripped another bag! You try!” “No, you try! You can do it!.” So very much hate.) By the time I got to the end of the line behind 17 people waiting for the self-checkout, I was already kind of crazy and spent the next 15 minutes in line cursing each and every one of my fellow shoppers. I was seething at the inefficiency and sheer stupidity of these folks who were holding up the line. Tapping my foot, rolling my eyes, sighing huffily – the whole nine yards.
Until I got my own dumb ass up there, scanned my container of soup (one of the main reasons I still frequent Dominicks is they have the most amazing baked potato soup on the planet,) a six-pack of Miller Lite, a roll of toilet paper, and some cat food. It was right about here that I realized I had eight singles in my purse, along with a whole mess of quarters. Now, not only am I that person holding up the line, but I’m paying for the saddest combination of items ever WITH CHANGE. And then? I ran out of quarters. So if I was looking for a lesson in humility, I certainly got it while digging for sixty more cents in my purse while everyone behind me tapped their feet in exasperation, rolled their eyes, and mentally called me a pathetic jackass in unison.
Incident #2 – CTA Part One.
The CTA has done everyone a big favor since the new year in raising their prices on one-day, three-day, and seven-day passes. And by “done everyone a favor,” I really mean bent them over without consent, lube, or dinner. Without going into all of the math, it is no longer economically efficient for me to buy a seven-day pass and instead makes more sense to buy ten dollar CTA cards every couple of days. Which means, of course, with me being me and whatnot, I occasionally find myself near running to (fucking) Dominick’s before work once a week because I forgot my pass is no longer valid. Earlier this week, I got on the bus, put in my card, and got the hateful message that there was only $.75 on my card. Once again finding myself digging around for change, I assumed the bus driver would do what every other bus driver does when the person is short, which is either wave them on or let other, better prepared folks board while I got my shit together.
But if that had happened, it wouldn’t be my life. So instead, the bus driver just sat there while I dug around frantically for my wallet – and isn’t it always the case that the more you’re in a panicked rush, the more shit you drop? Seriously, normally I can reach in my purse without looking and find my lighter, keys, and phone within seconds – leaving everyone waiting behind me in literal freezing rain. After I’d dropped my lunch on the floor, pulled out a tampon wrapped around my headphones, and mistook a quarter for a penny, I finally had enough to carry on and began walking through the near empty bus while other passengers boarded. And apparently said bus driver really had it in for me, because as soon as my last quarter passed through, everyone else jumped on the bus and she immediately slammed on the gas. At which point I dropped my lunch a-fucking-gain and was too afraid to bend over and pick it up while the bus was lurching to and fro, then caught my foot in the plastic bag it was in and nearly gave someone a very unwelcome lap dance.
Incident #3 – CTA Part Two.
I get out of work at 5:30 every night. From there I catch the Blue Line at Clark/Lake in order to catch my bus. For those unfamiliar, the Clark/Lake stop is a relatively busy one, as every other train line save the Red Line stops there. In addition, 5:30 is somewhat of a turning point – it’s not necessarily considered “rush hour,” anymore, so if you miss a train by 30 seconds, you may be stuck waiting for another 12 minutes listening to the guy play the buckets and desecrating some classic Temptations hits. The Blue Line train also runs to the airport, so quite often I’ve found myself behind some clueless tourists who are trying to pull their giant luggage through the turnstiles. (Another hint – it ALWAYS gets stuck. Always.) While I’ve certainly been frustrated by this, I will honestly say I never get mad at the tourists, because they don’t know any better and I do not forget that not long ago I was right there with them, terrified and confused by all of the people rushing by me.
That being said, I have often become apoplectic with the girls carrying giant gym bags, the sales guys in suits and backpacks standing at the turnstiles and just waving their wallet in front of the sensor despite it CLEARLY NOT RECOGNIZING THEIR CARD, the vagrants trying nine different cards that they’ve found on the ground, and the folks that get up to the turnstile and then begin searching for their pass, holding up the rest of the line for us savvy travelers. All of that being said, I have to wonder what names I was called today as I bopped up to the turnstiles with my headphones, singing along to Tiffany, when my card wasn’t accepted. No worries, I took it out, waited a beat, then tried to put it in again. No dice. Wouldn’t even go in the slot. Waited another moment – not noticing the security guard trying to get my attention as I was too involved in my music – and tried again. Nothing. Now, I’m irritated, and at the same time I look up to get the guard’s attention, he taps me on the shoulder. Exasperated, I turn around – with headphones still on, mind you – and make a “WHAT?” gesture. He points at my ear and I yank a headphone out, all, “Yes??” ”It’s upside down, ma’am.” Me. (And I’m embarrassed about this, honestly.) ”What? I can’t hear you.” ”Your card. You’re putting it in upside down.”
I wonder how many people are telling stories about the dumb blonde they got stuck behind this week?
“Excuse me. Excuse me! EXCUSE ME!!!” I hear it every single day, in varying forms of politeness, panic levels, and volume. It’s either someone trying to squeeze through the headphone wearing crowd to get off at their stop, or someone asking their fellow commuter if perhaps they may have the seat that is currently occupied by said commuter’s important backpack, or an irritated rider who has just gotten knocked in the head for the fifth time by a giant purse.
My commute since moving is much quicker but more complicated. I take the Chicago bus and the Blue Line, and while I can’t confirm this with hard evidence, in my opinion, more people take these two lines each day than visit Vegas every year. It is never a good sign when you can see the faces of commuters on the bus a block away because they are pressed against the windshield, nor do I enjoy seeing cattle car after cattle car pass me up, desperately hoping I will be able to wedge myself into one of them when the train stops. Inevitably, I wind up in front of the car in which no one is getting off and thus have to force my person into the door to the dismay of other riders.
Last week, an unfortunate string of events left me furiously muttering obsecenities under my breath after I was uncermemoniously launched from a still rolling bus.
Below are the highlights. I would appreciate any and all suggestions on how to improve my own experience.
Real Life – CTA Commute
- Check handy RedEye Tracker and see train is coming in four minutes. Score! This is exactly how long it takes me to cross the street and get down to the train.
- Well, it would be, if two of the lanes weren’t broken and the other was not occupied by a homeless person trying every single card that he has found in the last two days to see which one will allow him to pass through the magic turnstile.
- Shoelace gets caught in the escalator. (There are really not words descriptive enough to convey the sheer panic of this 45 second ordeal.)
- Am freed! Train is already pulled up, but as there’s four billion people trying to get on and off, I probably have a second. Begin “run” to first open car. (Blue line operators think they’re funny and do not “park” in a manner convenient for all waiting passengers.)
- Get to doors JUST in time to have them slam in face. Watch other passengers smirk and resist urge to hit the glass with my shoe.
- Lean down to tie said shoe.
- Am immediately smacked in head with a giant case of some sort, knocking me to the ground. Try to look on bright side – at least I wasn’t closer to tracks and now trying to climb away from my death.
- Stand back up, trying to maintain some sort of dignity. Fail.
- Successfully pack myself in with the other sardines/commuters on the next train.
- Check handy RedEye tracker for bus information. Score again! Ten minutes.
- If man next to me “accidentally” hits my boobs again, I am going to “accidentally” knee him in the goodies.
- Exit Blue Line and attempt to hurry up the stairs to bus. Am delayed by a large group of people blocking the stairs and wearing matching t-shirts that say, “Hard Core Bosnians on Tour!” Seriously?
- Climb stairs behind five person family from Iowa who are very, very busy staring straight up in wonderment. “It’s like coming up from underground!” Bite tongue to avoid shouting, “YOU’RE SURPRISED BY THIS?? BECAUSE THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT YOU’RE DOING!!”
- It comes as no surprise that the bus is pulling away as I get to the top step.
- Next bus is in 12 minutes. Quiver with impotent rage that the CTA stockpiles busses and the fact that there is no reason there shouldn’t be one every four minutes as approximately 30 people are already waiting.
- Climb aboard bus with 30 other people despite there only being room for two more. Have no place to face but directly into the armpit of an extremely hairy gentleman.
- Spend seven minutes desperately trying to avoid accidentally wearing this man’s shirt as the bus driver is obviously a first time driver, extremely malicious and masochistic, or blind.
- Ignore man in wheelchair who repeatedly calls me “pretty lady.” Try to listen to Pandora in an attempt to forget where I am.
- Elderly lady huffing and puffing about the purse strap that keeps grazing her is making me angry. Hairy man is replaced by smiling, creepy-looking gentleman with hair that can only be described as a pompadour holding onto the pole behind me. My personal space has not only been attacked, it has been H-bombed. Uncomfortable doesn’t really cover this particular sensation.
- Each of my senses is being assaulted. I am pressed up against this scary man, the child in the seat (in his OWN seat, I might add,) in front of me has obviously sullied his diaper, my hand is gripping a sticky plastic swinging rung, giving me the appearance of an uncoordinated monkey, and”Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” just came on my radio. Touche, Pandora. Touche.
- I attempt to exit the bus two stops early to stop the bleeding. I am blocked by a big fat woman who pretends not to hear me.
- I attempt to exit the bus one stop early and am moderately successful. I say moderately because in the process, I was thrown into the person in front of me with such force I wondered if we should file a police report, and promptly fell out the back doors of the bus, which, as stated before, did not come to a complete stop.
This all culminated in my shuffling my feet on my way to Dominick’s and subsequently home, mumbling things like, “Beer,” “Stupid cow,” “Stupid cow family,” “Dumb head mean driver, see if I smile at you again,” “Listen lady, I’m trying not to get impregnated by this clown, deal with my purse strap,” “Bosnians? Why?” and “No, YOU shut up.”
Perhaps this is why there’s always at least one incoherent homeless person on every bus? Years of frustration, of getting stepped on, yelled at, knocked over, and being shoved up against people they’ve never met has rendered them helpless to communicate normally?
I’ll take my chances. It still beats the hell out of an hour of stop-n-go on the Kennedy.