June 11, 2009

Road Trip Philosophy - Never Ride the L After Midnight

When I lived in Chicago, I had a love/hate relationship with public transportation. I loved that there was always a way to get around without a car. But it was also inconvinient, dangerous and took a lot longer to get where you were going. Most of these flaws were exacerbated by my own incompitence. There were times I rode an hour on a bus before realizing I was going the wrong way. There was also the time I discovered myself stranded when I learned the Purple Line stops running at a certain time and I would have to pay a ridiculous cab fare to get home.

But one rule I learned for certain: Never ride the L after midnight. For some reason when the clock strikes twelve, the L becomes a very scary place. During the day, criminal activities are largely limited to the illegal gambling games like three card monty - you know, the sort of things that never really hurt anybody and are actually entertaining to watch while you ride. But at night something happens where are the creepy, crazy people of the city seem to find their place on the L! There are the people openly smoking crack and dealing drugs, the skinheads on their way home from a bar (or crossburning, whichever) who decide to shout obscenities, the guy who tries to hit on you to impress his frat brothers not realized he got a little vomit on his Delta Iota Kappa sweatshirt, the underage drunk girls trying to keep their tops up and their miniskirts down, and of course the fatalist schizophrenic foretelling our "Doom!"

Riding the L back in the day with my lovely friend Bess

My worst experience on the L was late at night with my sister who had just come to visit me in Chicago for the first time. We were on the 95th/Dan Ryan Red Line when a very inebriated man who probably hadn't washed in a month sat down next to me. I reminded my sister of public transportation rule number one: ignore everyone around you. So we pretended he wasn't there.

After a couple minutes though, a guy across from me kept trying to catch my eye. I finally gave up and made eye contact, then he pointed to the drunk man next to me. The drunk man next to me who was fondly my skirt. The drunk man next to me who having realized he was busted, decided to go for broke and try to fondle my thigh.

Needless to say, I jumped up and grabbed my sister to move us to different seats. A couple minutes later though, I peeked back over to the man to see if he was still there. He was. And he was...pleasuring himself. Needless to say, both my sister and I were permanently traumatized that the man who had been attempting to feel me up only moments ago had now decided to publicly....um, enjoy...himself.

I told you. Never ride the L after midnight. Or else a drunk and possibly homeless man will use you in ways you really wish you didn't know about.



  1. I take cabs or drive if I'm not with someone else usually. Though I've discovered that strangely enough my usual bus route is safe and considering where I live that's saying something. I saw someone get mugged on the L though...and there's always the beggars.

  2. Yuck. Sorry to hear that. I once watched a couple stoned on heroin endlessly vomit on the subway. Seriously. Like 7 or 8 times each. They didn't seem to care.

  3. @wyrdtimes - You actually saw someone get mugged? That's creepy! Well, as for the homeless on the L or bus, my experiences have been fairly benign. It was when I ran into them on the street that I had problems.

    Like the guy who said, "Can I get some of that?" I thought he meant my cigarettes but I had lit the last one so I said, "Sorry, I'm all out of cigarettes." He said, "No, I mean some of that ass!" So I turned around and ran like hell.