Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Smooshy Cheeks and Duck-Walks

Well, there goes another umbrella. Why I went in to the office today is beyond me, especially because I could have worked from home. I woke up naturally, without an alarm, but it still took me ½ hour to actually get out of bed. I don’t know what I would do without my favorite morning radio show to wake me up.

I looked outside, and it stayed dark even when I hurriedly left the house, late, at 7 AM. It was gloomy and blustery, Hurricane 1-force winds, they said, and pelting rain. Ten minutes to get to the train—was I out of my mind that I thought I could make the 7:09?? I usually left at 6:50 or, at the latest, 6:55. I pulled into the train station parking lot, and saw a train up on the tracks. I thought, well, I’ve missed it. But the train pulled the other way—it was the outbound train. I was in luck—maybe if I hurried, I could get up on the platform in time for the inbound train. I got out of my truck, schlopped my bags together and by that time I could hear the horn of the inbound train, and a glance up revealed its headlights, even. Could I do it? I ran to the bank of parking lot slots and stuffed my $1 daily parking fee in. I could barely see straight, as the wind whipped my hair around my face and into my eyes. My umbrella turned itself in and out violently in the wind several times. The train had just about stopped on the tracks, and I sped up the 25 or so steps and miracle of miracles, made it onto that 7:09 after all.

Good thing I had thought to put my computer and paperwork in huge Ziploc bags before I left home. Last time it rained, I thought my bag was waterproof, and my computer was totally destroyed—the company had to rebuild practically all of it.

I ate my Egg McMuffin at the McDonald’s in the train station, and then ascended up with the other hundreds of cattle in the working stiff’s herd to the exit. I paused under the overhang, as did many others, contemplating at what moment they wanted their hair and umbrellas totally ruined. I extended my already beleaguered umbrella, hoping that the wind might have some mercy. I stepped out, and it really didn’t feel too terrible—a light wind, and the rain had let up. I thought, well this is not too bad after all. As if in retort, a huge gust of wind hit me and instantly bent the handle of my umbrella and broke the joints on several of its braces. Another one bites the dust. Sigh. I tried to hold what was left of my umbrella over my head, but at that point it was useless. I saw others put their umbrellas away, giving up as I eventually did, and let the whippy wind and strong drizzle have its way with my hair. I could have hailed a cab or taken a bus, but I felt more like walking. I realized I did have enough of my brain in gear this morning to remember to put on my ankle-length rubber rain boots. My feet stayed toasty warm and dry!

But walking was a challenge! As I crossed a street, westbound, I felt the wind smush my the skin on my cheeks towards one side of my face. I bet that would have been a funny picture! I sought the shelter of the east sides of building edges to ease the wind as I walked north, but that lasted only sporadically, as when I approached an intersection, the wind once again made itself known in a big way. At that point I was truly past caring.

After six long blocks I was finally at my destination, and I blew into the office, damp and disheveled. I plopped down at my desk and tried to finger-comb my hair into something presentable. It was time to start my workday. Good thing the company-wide meeting this afternoon with our CEO was via phone!

The day proceeded rather uneventfully, and at 5:15 I headed downstairs and out the door, back towards the train station. The wind at first felt as if it had died down some, and then a strong, sustained wind forced itself against the whole front side of me, and it was all I could do to stand up straight and try to walk at some kind of respectable pace representing putting one foot in front of the other and actually covering some ground. It was a real struggle, and at one point I did definitely feel like I was going to get blown down, and so did the woman in front of me, and for a moment we pasted ourselves against a building.

I continued on, but in the next block I had the other problem! The wind this time banged me from the back and made me walk faster and wider than I wanted to. I looked like a duck with my feet spread out to steady the pace.

Finally I gratefully slipped into the warm comfort of the Union Station and appreciated the beautiful interior architecture, the site of many movies, such as My Best Friend's Wedding and Flags of Our Fathers.
The train stood waiting, and I slid into the cushy seat for the blissful train ride home. As usual, Mr. Green Drink was sitting on the upper level, drinking his quarts and quarts of some green gook that he chewed too. I looked away and busied myself getting caught up with the local newspaper and, of course, the Bi-Level:
“...the snarky, snotty observations by Metra’s customers about fellow commuters ... offer some of the
best free entertainment around.”

I can always count on getting a chuckle from this paper. Here is an element from this month’s publication:

Seat hoggers, part 157
What bothers me during rush
hour are people who occupy
seats with their mounds of crap
from knitting supplies to laptops.
Or those who sit with their legs
crossed, blocking aisles or seats
and then look at YOU crazy
when asked to move. Listen peo-
ple… This is a public train NOT
your living room. If you have a
problem with people sitting next
to you – DRIVE. Unless you’ve
bought two tickets you don’t
get to occupy more than one
seat. Why should people have
to ask you to move every single
day when you know the train is
crowded with people going to
work just like you? And to those
people who seem too scared or
timid to ask these people to move
their stuff – you get what you
deserve – to stand!
Now that’s exciting and dis-
respectful! Actually, that’s what
we’ve always said: if you see a
hogger, ask him to move his stuff.

I came home to the animals and was grateful to finally be out of the elements. I will be soaking in a hot bath pretty soon!

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