Monday, August 6, 2007

CTA Stories: Strange Cargo

I've noticed my tales of public transportation fall into discrete categories in my mind, with one incident reminding me of similar. For example, one of my craigslist correspondent's stories about a shell man leaping off the train to escape an angry sucker reminds me of the guy I saw running down the El catwalk to escape the police chasing him on the ground. I'd probably call that category of story "Amazing Escapes" or somesuch. However, my favorite category is Strange Cargo, i.e. people transporting things for which they probably should have rented a handcart, U-Haul or cattle car. I can think of two right away.

A bed. Several years ago, I was riding the north-bound Red Line. At Monroe, five young people carried a bed on to the train. It was an old-fashioned metal hospital bed, with exposed springs. It was a struggle to get it in the door and then wedged down the aisle, and another to get it off again, at Chicago. I have no idea why the conductor didn't stop them.

A tree. On Christmas Eve, I was riding the west-bound Belmont bus when it stopped at Lincoln and picked up three passengers: two little girls, about seven and ten years old, and a four-foot-high Scotch pine. The girls wore the kind of faded, thrift-shop coats of the very poor. I figure that the guys at the lot probably just gave them the tree, or let them "buy" it for a handful of change. The bus driver never said a word, and just smiled and waved them on board. They dragged the tree down the aisle, needles flying everywhere.

I wondered: wasn't there an adult who could have purchased a tree for them? Did they know they needed a tree stand? Did they have decorations? I never asked these questions out loud. The children looked so triumphant, and it seemed wrong to cast doubt on the venture.

photo credit: e. english


Anonymous said...

I've never had the pleasure of travelling on the CTA but there is a lovely 'in transit' story that was widely written about in the British press a few years back. Apparently, a young couple were travelling on a surburban train and came over all
amorous.Great British reserve ensued as fellow passengers pretended not to notice when the couple became engaged in some furtive shagging. There was much tutting and general disapproval however when they proceded to light up a post coital cigarette. I like to think as a nation we have our priorities in the right order.

The Fifty Foot Blogger said...

I've always found trains rather erotic, myself. However, the Chicago Transit Authority does not maintain a cleanliness level which lends itself naturally to romantic encounters.