1. If you're going to throw up, please aim in the OTHER direction.
2. No, your purse does NOT need its own seat. So move it before I sit on YOU.
3. The "No Smoking" signs on the train and the subway platforms really do mean that you shouldn't smoke. It does NOT mean you should stand right beside the sign and light up.
4. I get that you love your death metal music. I prefer Miley, Britney, and Ke$ha, but I know that not everyone likes them. That's why I don't BLAST my music at a volume so loud that it would make Chicago commuters want to tackle me. So could you please turn it down?
5. Just because I happen to glance in your direction for a millisecond, that does not mean I am inviting you to come over and hit on me/convert me to your cult/expose yourself to me.
6. During rush hour, the trains are often late and end up becoming even more crowded with commuters. I know that you don't want to have to wait for the next train, because who knows when (or if) it'll show up? But if you see a train that's so crowded that people are literally spilling out of it, the logical thing to do is to just wait for the next train, rather than squeeze yourself onto it and then scream at people to move back.
7. If you want to see a bunch of Chicago commuters EXPLODE at the same
time, scream at them for not making room for you when the train is so
crowded that it's impossible for them to move, let alone make room for you.
8. It's okay if you want to talk on your cell phone, as long as you're quiet about it. But do realize we can hear everything you say, including all the details of your latest breakup/what's going on in your family/why you hate your job (and your boss just might be on the train at the same time).
9. A lot of people cut in front of each other in order to get on the train first. That's something that will never change. But I do wish that people would stop shoving each other in order to get on the train first, because otherwise a certain neurotic workaholic just might end up pulling people's hair in response.
10. It's important and necessary to floss. It's NOT necessary to floss when you're sitting right next to me on the train.
I have to take buses and trains to get to school, the Loop, Grant Park, the lake, and my favorite neighborhoods, like Chinatown, Boystown, Wicker Park, and Greektown. I also have to do a lot of walking just to get to the grocery store, my favorite coffee shop, the bookstore, and basically any place that sells candy (because I really am that addicted to sugar), just like the other locals. I spend hours commuting every week, and it can be very tiring and stressful. I usually read a book or listen to music to pass the time, but sometimes even Taylor Swift and Katy Perry aren't enough to make the commute more bearable. It's one of the things you just have to deal with when you're a city dweller, I guess.
But on the other hand, being a Chicago commuter makes me feel like a true local who can travel confidently (usually) from one end of the city to the other. I look around at the other commuters and I feel like I'm part of a community, even if the community members occasionally yell and shove each other just to get a seat. Although the tiny Midwestern town where I grew up will always be home, at the same time I never truly felt like I belonged there. I always felt out of place, which is one of the reasons I became a loner and started reading and writing so much; books (including my own stories) gave me the chance to escape.
But Chicago really does feel like home, and I feel like I really do belong here. I've always figured that my time here had an expiration date, because once I do finish graduate school, I'll have to go wherever the jobs are. That means I might end up living in a small town again, and that's okay. But Chicago will always be home to me.
What about you? What is it about your hometown that makes you feel like you belong, or is there another place that you feel more at home in?
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