Needs More Training

April 26, 2015 at 10:06 am (Uncategorized) (, , )

Friday morning, my commute gave me something to think about. I now have a theory that the conductors of the elevated trains are lonely and in need of companionship. What makes me think this? The Chicago Transit Authority conductor I had on my way into work.

It’s fairly normal for my train to run slowly and have frequent pauses between stations, especially in the mornings. That’s what happens when the tracks are old and twisted and you have trains backed up all the way to and from the loop, so it doesn’t concern me too much. If we end up sitting for 5 minutes and there’s no announcement then people start looking around like ‘WTF’ but usually the conductor will come on at that point and give us an update. My conductor today? Gave an update for every single delay – even those that lasted roughly 10 seconds. He must have been new or something because he went into more detail than I would have thought possible, i.e. telling us how many trains are in front of us and detailing how we couldn’t move until the one ahead moved first because if we did we would run the risk of hitting them and that would go against CTA policy. At first, I thought he was trying to be a smart ass but there was absolutely no hint of humor or irony in his voice; rather, he sounded like he was doing us the biggest favor in the world with these minute-by-minute updates. So every time we slowed down, we got to hear another announcement about how we would be moving in 10 seconds or so. This was especially annoying because most morning commuters like to make said commute in peace and quiet – having a voice constantly blaring through the train car completely destroys any chances of a relaxing commute.

Did I mention that CTA trains also have automated announcements to inform of us delays, door openings and closings and their policy regarding gambling? Because they do.

At least my conductor didn’t do this.


But then, I considered the fact that maybe the poor guy was just lonely. Conductors don’t typically have a lot of interaction with the commuters (unless one of them is sick or crazy or something and that’s not exactly the kind of interaction anyone wants). They usually stand at the front of the train and pull their various levers and whatnot to keep us moving, which is fine and dandy. But perhaps this guy wanted to feel more a part of the crowd and figured the best way to do that would be talking to us like we were the best of friends, or at least gave a shit about what he was talking about. It’s possible his goal was to annoy us all so much that someone would hit the call button to ask him to stop, which would be a prolonged human interaction. I almost got to that point myself, after all. It could have been a perfect storm of him being new to the job and wanting to over-inform rather than under-inform combined with him not being used to working such a solo type of position. So I should feel some compassion, right?

Nope. I’ve completely avoided trains because of annoying conductors before and I will absolutely do so again if need be. But maybe I’ll give him a long, overly detailed warning about it first.


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