Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Well trained

Last Sunday afternoon I was standing on the train platform at the Clark and Lake stop of the Chicago Transit Authority, more familiarly known as the "L." There was a large throng of people, unusual for a Sunday, because the 2009 Chicago Marathon was wrapping up. Runners and their friends were all around me.

Eventually a crowded Brown Line train pulled into the station. The conductor made an announcement over the loudspeaker, audible to those on the platform: "This is an eight-car train. The middle cars are full. Please move to one end of the train or the other." I did so and got one of the few remaining seats in an end car. It took a while but the large crowd eventually got onto the train.

With every passing stop, the frustrated conductor made increasingly impatient variants of the above announcement.
  • At Merchandise Mart: "Please move to either end of the train. (pause) Or not."
  • At Chicago Avenue: "This train has sixteen doors. They all lead onto the same train. Please find an available door and use it."
  • At Sedgwick: "Every car has two doors. They both lead to the platform. There is no need to form a single-file line."
  • And one time: "Ma'am, you can't walk through him, so find a way to walk around him."
I was sitting with three guys from my neighborhood who'd just finished running the marathon. We were all chuckling at the free entertainment courtesy of the angry conductor. One marathoner in particular couldn't believe what he was hearing: "That guy is so getting fired, but he's making the most of his last day."

Fired? He's a Chicago Transit Authority employee with experience, problem-solving skills, intelligence and personality. Given the CTA's ongoing woes, he strikes me as an excellent candidate for CEO.

1 comment:

Orange said...

That's hilarious, Ben. I love CTA workers with personality. Thanks for sharing!