Wednesday, September 12, 2007

0 for 20!

To take my bus home from work, I walk a block from my building and cross the Chicago River to an extremely busy intersection. The bus stop is on the opposite corner, and with traffic and lights it can take more than five minutes to cross the two streets. It always seems like when I get to that intersection, my bus is already at the stop. Which means it’s long gone by the time I cross the two streets.

Seriously. If that bus were a football and I were Charlie Brown, the traffic lights would be Lucy van Pelt. And this would be an honest-to-goodness sports metaphor, albeit a sports metaphor filtered through a half-century-old pop-culture trope. But I’m a big homo. So: baby steps.

Last month I decided to quantify just how often this happens to me, so I randomly picked a day when I missed my bus and I started counting. And last night I hit my 20th missed bus in a row. Which—if not some sort of Chicago Transit Authority conspiracy theorist goldmine—is at least a CTA bad-timing record. And I didn’t even get a trophy. Or a cupcake. Or a box of kittens. Stupid CTA.

But this is apparently the last week for my bus to mock me and laugh derisively as it leaves me in its dust; it’s one of the 39 routes being eliminated by the CTA (who blames everything on state budget cuts) effective Monday.

Which means longer walks to less-convenient buses or even longer walks to sardine-packed trains for me. And no doubt staggering losses in worker productivity across Chicago. Honestly, it seems reliable public transportation should be one of any metropolis’ paramount investments—it ensures workers spend time generating revenue instead of commuting, it reduces deterioration of roads and other infrastructures, it promotes tourism and it raises the general quality of life (and, most likely, property values and tax revenues as well). But I’m no George W. Bush, so I won’t even begin to pretend that I know how to manage a government or a budget or the minimum satisfaction requirements of a citizenry.

On the other hand, I am the fiancé of a huge copycat who was so jealous of my leaving-my-phone-on-a-bus adventure last month that he left his phone on a train late last night. His phone has a loud, annoying ring, and after he called it a couple times when he got home, it suddenly started going right to voicemail. Which means that some train-riding Samaritan found his phone and turned it off so as not to be inconvenienced by any obligation for compassion or helpfulness or decency. Or karma, one would hope.

So in this pop-culture-cliché sports metaphor, the fiancé is Charlie Brown, the phone is the football and the Samaritan is Lucy van Pelt. And if we ever find this Lucy, she has some ’splainin’ to do.

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