Zachary Loeber

I eat complexity and am never without a meal.

Chicago Commuting Dictionary: The Ugly Train

2010-07-23 3 min read Chicago Commuting Other Zachary Loeber

I think that commuting is starting to drive me a bit crazy. I’m going to vent a bit in the form of a dictionary of what I’ve noticed in the last 2 years working in the city. I’ll start with train types. There are a few kinds of trains that a Chicago commuter can take and I have a name for all of them. Today we are going to talk about the appropriately named “Ugly Train”.

The Ugly Train = A train that is so early in the morning that you may as well just stayed up all night to catch it. If you are up before the sun (by quite a bit), and are looking on at the people who are waiting for this speeding sardine can of death, you will swear you are watching a zombie movie. Except these zombies are waiting to go to work and could give a shit about eating anything, let alone your brain.

People usually are kinda ugly or plain looking on this early morning moving metal tube on a track. Even if you are marginally attractive no one would know it as the marks from the creases of your pillow are still imprinted on your face. That and 95% of the passengers have their eyes closed and are trying to squeeze 30 more minutes of body rest in before working 10 hours to keep businesses in the city going. Yup, I’m just guessing but I strongly feel that the only reason that anyone is on a train as early as this is because they are work-a-holics.

If you happen to be a morning person everyone on this train hates you and wants you to shut up. No one wants to hear about your stupid shit at this hour. If you are mean enough to be waking someone else up to talk to them on your cell phone (or there is some other “morning person” on the other end of the line), everyone around you is fantasizing about cramming the phone down your throat and throwing you off the moving train into gravel or hard pavement.

These train riders are hardcore commuters. They have special commuter branded equipment and cloths to withstand the totally awful and random weather in Chicago. Many of them carry large bags on their backs half as large as their bodies. They have all gone through several MP3 playing devices due to wear and tear. They are so experienced at trying to get rest in uncomfortable positions while in a bumpy speeding metal people mover that, in a pinch, these soldiers could probably curl up under a car or in a ditch for a few minutes of rest. I swear that I briefly caught a glimpse of a tattoo on the wrist of one of these die hard veterans of public transportation that said “Commute or Die”.


For what it is worth, I am on this train most often…. not so sure what that says about me..