How’s Your Morning Commute Going?
I sat on the Metra train this morning, trying to conjure up a writing idea for another blog post. What to write; what to write. I thought back to 2017, when I met a topic challenge put forth to us by our ChicagoNow editor: “Write About Your Tomorrow.” And so I did… see story here.
I thought that story turned out well. But at that time, I had other people to write about — the stories of rank and file members going about their days, tending to business. Watching them make a determined effort was inspiring to me, and I thought it all made for a good story.
“So what’s so compelling about today?” I thought to myself.
Boring. Take the train to the LaSalle Street station. Walk approximately 11 blocks to the office. Again, Boring.
Lo and behold, I’m learning that each day does present itself with something new. In other words, there is always something to write about. Just as we sit around the dinner table each evening and my daughter asks “How was your day?” We all have something funny, peculiar, irksome, outstanding to report.
So here I will describe for you: my walk into work. And I didn’t stop to take pictures. (I know, you all love my fuzzy photos from my old phone.) Hopefully, my writing will bring pictures to your mind’s eye.
HERE’S WHAT I SAW
I watch a young lady walking down LaSalle Street, wearing an evergreen maxi dress. How cute she looks. Plus, she’s expecting – even cuter.
A food truck sits in front of City Hall. Two fellas are handing out samples of Diet Coke; I stop and try the blood orange-flavored one. I decide to take a free can of the Blueberry Acai Diet Coke.
“I’ve never had a bad Diet Coke,” I tell one of the vendors. He smiles, “Hey, that’s a great quote – we’re gonna use that today,” he responds. I walk away and actually hear them calling out my creative quote to other passers-by.
I walk along, wondering to myself: Why can’t I get a paid writing job??
THE WALK CONTINUES…
“Good morning, good morning!” sings the gentleman in a wheelchair, setting up his usual spot on LaSalle and Washington Streets. Each day he’s there, singing to passers-by. He has his usual folks, who stop to chat with him.
I’m not one of them.
I reach Randolph Street. Since it’s payday, I decide to pop into Walgreen’s to buy Lifesavers orange mints for my desk. I make a short stop at the lotions and decide to try the product on my wrist before purchasing. Yes, I’m that person – the one who unscrews the cap and tests the product first – usually frowned upon in the drugstore.
Onto the candy aisle, where, as usual, there are no orange-infused mints. Instead, I grab the regular peppermints and a bag of Hershey’s dark chocolate nuggets. My co-workers will love me.
Upon exiting the store, I’m greeted with “Do you have any spare change?” Except I keep walking, heading toward the north section of the State of Illinois building, where the CTA terminal is housed.
There are various smells wafting from the CTA trains both overhead and from the subway below. Added to this mixture are sticky floors and the smell of popcorn, and I’m immediately reminded of the old movie theatre on 69th Street where my sister, brother and I watched Saturday matinees for a cut-rate ticket. Funny how smells will immediately spark memories.
I admire a woman wearing a black dress, amped up with a gold chain belt. My, how smart she looks.
Next I’m behind a woman wearing a worn black parka. Our weather is already in the low ‘70s and she must be pretty warm. But what other choice does a (seemingly) homeless person have? They must wear or haul their belongings everywhere they go.
She trudges along, shuffling her feet in black sneakers. Her right hand is shoved into the coat pocket, while her left arm balances her uneven walk. She walks into traffic, against the light and ignoring oncoming cars. I hold my breath.
She makes it.
Here, in the matter of seconds, I go from envying a woman in a black dress to feeling uneasy over a woman in a ragged coat. Funny how we can run through a wide range of emotions in a simple morning commute.
Meanwhile, the WALK light is flashing a warning. How many seconds left do I have to run across the street? 4 – 3 – 2 – 1… Nope, I’ll have to wait for the next green light.
The light turns green and I continue, hurrying past the woman in black parka who is working her slow gait. Not even two seconds later I’m distracted by a young man wearing a black t-shirt with “Sasquatch Brewery” written across the back. His single stud earring catches the morning sunlight, and his tattooed, tanned biceps flex themselves as he unlocks the back door to a pool hall, while assiduously glancing back toward Clark Street.
Focus, Heidi. Focus…
Next corner is Clark and Wacker … last street to cross before reaching my office building. This part can be the prettiest, as it crosses the Chicago river and the views are outstanding. It can also be the worst, since crossing the bridge in lousy weather is enough to make me want to turn around and walk all the way back to the train station.
But today is beautiful, and out of the corner of my eye I see a photo shoot in the making. You see, this particular spot along the bridge is popular for tourists and professional photographers. The river water is a dark green, and it’s flanked on either side by stunning Chicago skyscrapers. The water taxi glides along the water, carrying passengers, and one may even spot a family of ducks taking a morning swim. (Click here for a stunning photo I took a couple summers back of the Chicago River.)
A young girl stands on the bridge, posing for a photographer who stands across the street, taking her photo. The waif model holds onto one of the maroon-colored steel beams and patiently waits for her instructions. Her ankle-length dress has a silver sequin bodice, while its full skirt is a sparkly red chiffon. Her long dark blonde hair blows in the wind and she wears bright rainbow–striped stilettos.
And that reminds me. I really want to go see the new Elton John movie this weekend.
Thank you for reading – PIZZA FOR BREAKFAST