Why Don’t You Worry About Your Own Problems?

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

They can’t finish rebuilding the Montrose station soon enough ’cause the Irving Park scene is messed up!

I was waiting on the southbound platform a few weeks ago and happened to notice that the northbound train was stopped about 100 yards north of the station. This is during rush hour, mind you. (Well, maybe a little after. I stay at work late, OK? Get off my back.) The point is, there were a lot of people waiting for trains.

The conductor of the train was walking down the tracks toward the station. He wasn’t in any hurry. I wasn’t either, which is why I could enjoy the scene that was about to unfold.

I noticed a little girl standing alone on the northbound platform. She was young enough that it was strange for her to be on an L platform by herself, but she seemed rather calm. The crazy man on the platform, however, was anything but. He was gesticulating wildly for the conductor to hurry over. The conductor did not hurry, but he made it eventually, at which point I learned what had happened: The little girl had accidentally gotten off of the train without her mother noticing. The mother was now waiting impatiently on the train stalled 100 yards north of the station.

The conductor formed a plan, which the crazy man loudly repeated, line by line.

CONDUCTOR: Don’t worry, it will be OK.
CRAZY MAN: IT WILL BE OK!
CONDUCTOR: I’ll make sure your mom gets off at the next station
CRAZY MAN: YOU BETTER MAKE SURE HER MOM GETS OFF AT THE NEXT STATION!
CONDUCTOR: Get on this next train and the conductor will help you out.
CRAZY MAN: YOU GOTTA GET THAT NEXT TRAIN OVER HERE!

The conductor motioned for the next train to approach the station. (The crazy man, also motioned for the next train to approach, but with a much larger gesture.) When it got there, the conductor made sure the little girl got on the train and explained the situation to that train’s operator.

NEW TRAIN OPERATOR: Why didn’t you just radio me?
CONDUCTOR: I don’t have a radio.
NEW TRAIN OPERATOR: How do you not have a radio?
CONDUCTOR: Why don’t you worry about your own problems?

I’ve often defended the CTA, even irrationally at times, but if there’s one thing the dude driving the train needs, it’s probably a radio. Wouldn’t you assume, maybe, that the radio would be built into the train itself? I mean, I’m all for personal interaction, but as he slowly sauntered back to his train I couldn’t help but wonder what a wrench this 30 minute detour threw into the CTA’s down-to-the-minute schedules. (Pffft.)

All that said, they did (I assume) reunite the little girl with her mother. So that’s nice.

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