Thursday, March 09, 2006

disrupted CTA services...

It was the slowest CTA train I've ever taken. It took me an hour and a few minutes to get from Jackson to Morse. Even worse, the train stopped a few hundred yards from the Morse station. I don't know why--I could see the track ahead, and there was no "crew working on track ahead" as their daily "we're sorry, we're being delayed" announcements always suggest. I was on the famous "blessed train" (whose conductor has a rather jolly disposition and announces that he's grateful that the customers are on his blessed train, slipping in some varying lectures on the virtues of being grateful and so on), but I wasn't blessed enough to know what was going on. When the train had been stopped for seven minutes, in sight of the station, a woman got up her seat, shaking her head and mumbling something in her mouth. It was clear that she was far more irritated than the rest of us, who were, in our own lights, pretty pissed ourselves. She pried open the heavy door to the next car.

"Well, that'd make a tremendous difference," I thought, and went back to my reading of The Devil's Highway. The dead Mexican "illegal entrants" were enjoying the coolness of the morgue drawers after days of baking in the 100-plus degrees heat in the Southwestern desert. They were waiting for their first-time-ever flight--in their government-paid cheap coffins--to their homes in Veracruz.

The young man who sat next to me stood up, folding his conservative newspaper. I looked up. He walked up to the front of the car, where some people were saring out the windows, shaking their heads and muttering something in low voices. Then I saw the pissy woman walking across the track. She must have gotten off the train from the narrow connection bridge between the cars--in her frustration at the stopped train. She furiously walked to the other end of the tracks and quickly disappeared down the bank. By now, everybody on board was following her eccentric action, half amazed and half entertained.

The train remained at the same spot four more minutes before it slowly slid into the station just two blocks ahead. A police car cruised past us on an alleyway along the track. When I finally stepped out of the snail train, a loud and cracked voice was apologizing the delay due to a "disruption to the service." Sure, the woman getting off the train mid-journey was a surprise, but that didn't explain why the train had to stop for seven long minutes before her irritation reached that point. Sometimes I'm sick of this perpetually disrupted public transit system...

keywords: Chicago, public transportation, CTA, red line, train, reading, Luis Alberto Urrea, Luis Urrea, The Devil's Highway, immigration


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