Book Nerding it Up

March 12, 2015 at 8:53 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

To know me is to know I love to read. Hell, even my name gives that away. I’m also really nosy inquisitive and I often try to slyly check out what other people are reading whenever I can. The train is a really good place for me to do this and I have to say that the Kindle doesn’t exactly stop my curiosity. There have been many times that I’ve glanced at the electronic page the person next to me is reading and realized that I can tell what book it is from just a few lines – that’s how much of a book nerd I am.

Bringing strangers together since 2015.

So one day this week I was sitting on the el during my commute home, absorbed in my own book, when I noticed a woman near me kept laughing out loud while she read from her Kindle. That alone got me wondering what she was reading because there have only been a handful of books that have ever caused me to actually laugh out loud and only one that had me chuckling as much as she was. I thought to myself, “Self, I wonder if she’s reading the funniest book I myself have ever read” or something like that and so I covertly looked at her screen. The few words I saw caused me to be almost positive my guess was correct but I had to know for sure so I asked her what she was reading that had her laughing so much. Lo and behold, I was right!

The book in question is one I believe I’ve blogged about before. Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore is hands down the funniest book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading and she was enjoying it just as much as I had. We talked about it for a bit and she recommended a few other books to me before we each went back to our respective literary worlds. I thought about maybe asking her to start a Brown Line Book Club but figured that would be pushing my luck – the last thing I need is someone with a heavy electronic device worrying about stranger danger and hitting me upside the head. I mean, that could damage my vision and if I couldn’t read, what would happen? Well, I’d probably learn braille or turn to audiobooks but it just wouldn’t be the same. And I’d have to stop being a peeping Tom with other people’s books, which obviously sounds awful to me. But if I’m going to be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve struck up a conversation with a stranger over a book, or had a stranger start a literary conversation with me. Just a few weeks ago I realized the guy in front of me and I were both reading different Harry Potter books so we shared a nice smile over that. And like ten years ago I got into an argument with a guy on a bus in NYC about a character from Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, so there’s that.

Maybe I should try to keep my nose in my book instead of other people’s business? Nope, not as long as I have the gift of sight!

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Neighborhood Watch

April 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Humans are creatures of habit and pretty much all of us have our usual morning workday routines.  If you’re someone who drives to work every day you probably don’t notice the same people each morning (or maybe you do, in which case you should probably be paying more attention to the road) but if you walk and or take a train, you might  see the same not-so-shining faces day in and day out.  Here is a list of those early commuters who don’t even realize they’re a part of my life:

  • The woman with the two little yappy dogs who can be seen walking every morning, followed by the woman with the very well-behaved Golden Retriever that gets a treat every time it stops before crossing the street.
  • The guy in the long trench coat who always seems overly concerned with his hair.
  • The annoying teenagers on their way to school, including the couple that apparently can’t walk more than 20 feet without hanging all over each other and the group of girls who yak so loudly I feel as though I need ear plugs.  I can only hope I wasn’t that obnoxious as a high-schooler, though I’m sure I was.  Probably worse.  Yikes.
  • The elementary school girl wearing an uncomfortable-looking uniform who gets into the taxi cab her father (or the older man I can only assume is her father) drives.  This makes me wish I had a free cab to take to work every day and yes, I’ve considered asking him for a lift.  Especially on cold/rainy mornings.
  • The woman who carries a large purple bag and reminds me of my mom.
  • The blond girl who carries a store-bought coffee every single morning as she passes me by.
  • The guy with the mustache who catches my train.  At first I thought that abysmal looking thing was for No-Shave November but when he kept it, I realized he must just make poor hair related choices instead.
  • The tall girl who reminds me of my old roommate, Sarah.  We always seem to pass each other on the exact same street corner.
  • The dark-haired girl who wears a fuzzy purple coat that must make pimps everywhere green with jealousy.

Strangers in the night...I mean morning

After cataloging all of this, I have to wonder at my stalker tendencies.  Am I the only one who notices these same people every day?  Do they notice me?  Am I a creep?  It’s not like I can just shut my eyes and pretend I’m not seeing the same faces on my walk each morning.  And it’s not as though I’m telling them things like “Oh, I like your haircut” or “You know, that color doesn’t really look too good on you.  You should stick to the shade you were wearing yesterday”.

Yet.  Perhaps after a few more months I’ll feel so close to these strangers that I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut.  I’ll keep you all updated on my forthcoming restraining orders.

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Crying Over Spilled Juice

January 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Orange you glad to see this?

I haven’t had a post on public transit happenings lately so I guess I was due for another interesting ride on the CTA.  I’ve actually been spoiled as of late because Scott (the boyfriend) has a car and has been giving me lifts to places I’d normally be hoofing it to.  The Field Museum, for example.  I have thoroughly appreciated the rides there over the past few weeks as early and cold mornings just don’t sit well with me.  However this last Saturday he actually had to work himself so I was on my own, like in the good ‘ol days.  I had a brief walk, a train ride, a transfer, one more train ride and yet another walk before I could go into the museum so I bundled up and headed out.

The first train ride was uneventful but then I switched to the Red Line.  As any Chicagoan can tell you, each train line yields different…experiences, shall we say.  The Red Line runs 24/7 and is known for smelling like urine.  As I settled into my seat, I noticed that the guy next to me had quite the deluxe breakfast featuring Dunkin Donuts donuts, coffee and orange juice.  You may be able to see where this is going.  At one particularly jerky point, the poor guy’s juice flew across the aisle and dumped itself everywhere.  I felt bad for him because he was clearly embarrassed (and he just wasted nearly $2.00) but I didn’t feel too bad because I got splashed in his wake.  Nothing major but then again, any juice on my pants that didn’t at some point belong to me is just a little too much.  So while I watched the ocean of orange ebb and flow down the aisle with the train, I was just thankful I wasn’t completely soaked.  Then the preacher/rapper got on.

You gotta get bapTIZED

You gotta get bapTIZED

Don’t your realize, you gotta get bapTIZED!!

This is what I heard for the next ten minutes.  While I appreciate his attempts at religious conversion, the part of me that was dealing with being on the train at 9am on a Saturday was just not in the mood.  He yelled and flailed his arms around while everyone tried to not make eye contact and he was able to fit such rhyming words as wise, demise, surprise  and prize into his spiel.  At one point he was gesticulating so wildly that he smacked another passenger in the head as they were trying to get off the train – without missing a single beat, he said “I apologize but YOU GOTTA GET BAPTIZED!”.  I’ll admit, I was impressed with his ability to stick with his rhyme scheme as he said sorry for being a public nuisance.

It was about this point that the guy who lost part of his orange juice to my pants turned to me and commented on what a fabulous morning I must be having.  He was right – that song about baptism was in my head all day and I’ve already been baptized myself.  But now I sort of want to do it again.  In orange juice.

CTA – Transit with a Show!

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Hard Times

November 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

You know the city of Chicago is running on broke when you see the Mayor on the train during your morning commute:

Why hello there

At least, that’s what I thought when I looked up this morning to see Rahm Emanuel standing nonchalantly in my train car.  He was accompanied by two security guards, one giant tough looking dude and a small yet mean seeming female.  I really wanted to talk to him  (specifically, I wanted to discuss the state of our city’s libraries and museums and plead with him to quit cutting funding) and when I remembered how he was President Obama’s right hand man in the White House until becoming Mayor, I really wanted to bend his ear about some of my concerns.  Unfortunately, his security guards looked about as friendly as a cactus and they stood around him in such a way that made approaching him rather intimidating, to say the least.  So they stood around and secured a rather large space for him to stand in (especially considering this was during the morning rush commute) and the woman continually whispered into a little hand microphone every time we came to a new stop.  This prevented me from my usual morning nap on the train but since she looked like she could snap me in half with one hand tied behind her back, I let it slide.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed our atypical passenger this morning nor am I the only one who snapped his picture (he was reading The New York Times, in case you were wondering).  However, I may have been one of the only ones to make eye contact with him long enough to share one of those It’s-Monday-morning-and-neither-of-us-really-want-to-be-here half smile grimace things.  So that was something.  Perhaps I should start carrying around a letter full of polite suggestions for him in case I ever run into him again.  Though if I tried to hand it to him, chances are his security goons would think it was full of anthrax and that might not work out in my favor.

Oh well, it made for a more interesting Monday morning nonetheless.  Maybe I’ll run into him doing his own laundry next?

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May 18, 2011 at 10:42 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’ve been able to talk to my dad and he’s feeling better – we’re all still waiting on test results but since there’s not much that can be done until we know what we’re dealing with, I’m trying not to stress.  And since the daily grind doesn’t grind to a stop just because a loved one is sick, I’m still going about my normal routine.  Which of course means waking up early and catching the train to work.


So there I sat, enjoying a few moments of peace and quiet before starting another work day.  I had my eyes closed and was in that nice spot somewhere between dozing and being fully alert.  I was also enjoying some random thoughts and one of them had to do with public transportation (shocker).  I can’t quite remember if I blogged about how the train jammed a few weeks ago and caused a nightmare of a commute for thousands of Chicagoans but if I didn’t, I meant to.  No one was hurt and I managed to miss the headache by about an hour but it was strange because that same morning, as I was on that train line, I had wondered to myself how many times I had to ride it before being involved in an incident.  Statistically speaking, of course, not because I’m into that sort of thing.  It was a little weird when I heard the news later that day but I was just thankful I wasn’t involved.

Back to today.  One of my random thoughts pertained to coffee drinkers on the trains, as there are usually more than a few.  I’ve never seen anyone spill anything on anyone else and considering how jerky the rides can be, that’s somewhat surprising.  Roughly 3 minutes after that thought morphed into another, I felt something warm on my leg.  After quickly determining I hadn’t just wet my pants, I opened my eyes and saw some dude in a suit staring at me with real fear in his eyes as he apologized.  My reaction time was delayed as I was still in that semi-conscious state but I do believe I looked at the stain spreading on my knee in utter disbelief.  Before I could say anything to him, he ran off the train.

Luckily for me (and him), we’d been on the train about 20 minutes and the coffee wasn’t really all that hot.  Still – some stranger spilled coffee on me!  Not a great way to start the day.  It didn’t end up staining my pants but it did forever tarnish my perception of humanity in general.  Alright, maybe my reaction wasn’t exactly that strong but I cannot say I was pleased.  I’m also now scared of thinking random things on the train because they seem to come true.  Tomorrow I shall test this theory and wonder how often people find hundred dollar bills on the floor of train cars, but somehow I don’t think that will produce the outcome I want.  Although finding some money would allow me to buy a handy poncho for my daily commute.

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Ladies First

March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

I guess I could just do this until everyone else gets off first

In my four months working in the Sears Willis Sears tallest building in Chicago, I’ve spent a good deal of time in an elevator.  My walk from the front door of the building to my cubicle sweet cubicle includes an elevator ride to the 31st floor, an escalator ride up to the 32nd and then another elevator ride up to the 51st.  So, on an average day that I don’t leave the office for lunch or any other errand, I take four separate elevator rides.  And in that time I’ve noticed something – men are still chivalrous.

9 out of 10 times I’ve been in an elevator, the men all stand aside in some unspoken rule and let the women out first.  Honestly, I’m not sure how I feel about this.  It’s a very nice gesture and I certainly appreciate shortening my morning commute by 2.5 seconds but it also makes me feel a little awkward.  Especially when there’s an elevator full of men and they all stand to the side so I can make my way out from the back – seriously, at that point, just get off the damn thing already.  I’ve tried to let the men out first and it becomes a bumbling attempt that winds up with the dreaded “No, go ahead”, “No, you go ahead” game that no one wants to play, especially not before 8am.  It’s just a bit of elevator etiquette that took me by surprise once I began to notice it happening.  Again, I’m not complaining, just providing the witty and fascinating social commentary you’ve become so accustomed to.  I’ll continue to accept this gesture though and I’m sure before long I’ll be so used to it that I’ll simply take it for granted.  Actually, that probably won’t happen because living in a large city where I encounter more rude and obnoxious people on day-to-day basis than anyone else, these small acts of kindness will hopefully continue to stick out in my mine more than the rest.  Now if I could just get the guys on the elevator to start bringing me in breakfast, my working life would be complete.

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