Since I’ve gotten a job near downtown Chicago, when I’m not biking I take the CTA. For those of you who don’t live in the Chicago metropolitan area, that stands for Chicago Transit Authority. Apparently there is a CTA Manners and Regulations Handbook that many riders have studied. It goes something like this:
1. If you have a huge backpack, make sure to plant yourself in the aisle so nobody can get past you. If you are seated, place the backpack on the seat next to you so others, especially seniors and the handicapped, are discouraged from taking that seat.
2. If you are taking the train and don’t have a seat, by all means stand in the doorway, no matter how many people need to exit before you. That way, you will make the maximum number of folks uncomfortable as they are obliged to squeeze past you.
3. When riding the bus and there is an open two-seater, plop your carcass down in the aisle seat. It is optional whether you should place your belongings on the window seat or leave it empty. If another passenger has the temerity to request the window seat, allow him or her to take it, but do not move your body as they slither past. Likewise, if the other person needs to get off before you do, do not rise to let them pass, but grudgingly turn your body ever so slightly so that they are forced to brush your face with their behind.
4. There are times when the “T” in CTA is just for show. Such as when the bus drivers crawl along the street, even though the road is empty. The response to this if you are traveling with another person is the following dialogue, “Did that lazy brother-in-law of yours get a job yet?” “No, he’s still a bus driver.” If you are traveling by yourself, loudly request that the driver please slow down, as his reckless driving is making you carsick.
5. Talk as loudly as possible on your cell phone. How else will the other riders be able to enjoy hearing about your latest doctor appointment, fight with your boss or disagreement with the judges on American Idol? Remember, it’s all about YOU. None of those indifferent strangers on the CTA are going to ask about your life, so it’s your responsibility to make sure they get the whole story.
6. Every one of the preceding five points shall be null and void when you remember that all the other riders, like you, are making the city a better place by taking public transit instead of driving.