The Chicago Silver Line… Cta Exclusive
by Manny Santos
With all the the horror stories about the most easily accessible public transit in the World, a silver lining is always appreciated
The 3rd coldest winter in Chicago history is literally days away from officially being over, and for someone like me who does rely on the daily commute via the public transit this very exciting news. This past December I found myself always saying “this is the last winter using the transit system”, and this was for more then just the weather. The smell, the over crowding, and of course the violence as well make the experience of using the transit pretty remarkable for a city and system where so many millions do rely on the Cta as a main source of transport in just a day. Not being over dramatic, but by riding the bus or train, you do place yourself in a very vulnerable position although personally I have yet to encounter a problem. (Yet)
Last October after completing a 10 hour shift mainly on my feet, I boarded the Brown Line heading into the Loop to find a drunken French gentleman asking people for help with no success, I decided to take matters into my hand and lend the drunken gentlemen the assistance he needed. Upon separation I handed this fellow my business card and asked if he could call me in the morning to be sure he was safe, he said he would and thanked me. I wrote this man off thinking that he would be to drunk to remember me let alone the card that I handed to him, but at 9AM the next morning I got a call from the man in a much deeper, and clearer French accent thanking me for my help and wishing me well. I have yet to hear from him again.
Another story occurred a bit more recently and of course has something to do with valentines day, which for someone who is bitter and single, and bitter about being single has got to be the worst day whether we let other know it or not. On the way to train this last February, 14th I had internally of course been talking myself into a better mood and wrote off the day as “whatever”. I boarded on the Montrose Brown Line stop, while waiting the few minutes until the next train I got my first human interaction of my day even though I had been up for hours until that point. “Happy Valentines Day friend”, is what this lady said to me while handing me a valentines. Speechless yes at first, I went on to find out that this women had 300 of these cards made and she had gained the idea from a women who had did the same in the city of New York. When asked “why” she simply replied in her light kind voice “for some of us this day is hard, we all see people getting gifts from others and some of us don’t even get a hello”. Wow! Emma, which was her name definitely changed my attitude about that day. More than that, she changed my view on my life even if only for a second. I wish I could thank her again.
Just this morning. While on the Red Line going into the tunnels beneath the city of Chicago, a video I had been watching via YouTube cut off due to a loss of signal I screamed out a curse. Suddenly a man next to me asked what the video I had been watching was, I immediately wanted to ignore him but not what the heck? Not this time, I decided to speak. Now let me be the first to say I am not a religious person, this does not make me a bad person but it does make me avoid conversing about religion but this is exactly where the conversation went. Instead of challenging the things that this man was trying to tell me, I asked questions. (Perhaps questions that I already knew the answer too?) He seemed surprise by my deep knowledge of history as well a religious matters. The thing about this whole exchange was that this man guessed what I do for a living, he also gave me his name “Elazar” which I had never heard of before this morning. Upon further research I found out that it means “God has helped”. I had to cut the conversing a little short but I got up came here and wrote this.
Why did I share this with you? Why did you continue reading? Silver linings like these that make all the dangers, drama, and heart aches of the transit and basically everyday life worth it. Its good to experience being human, its good to have general human contact. If I had just read what was on my phone screen, or put in 2 ear buds besides 1 maybe these stories would not be able to be fully enjoyed or even shared. You can take that to the bank.