Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strangers on the Train

I spend anywhere from one to two hours a day commuting by bus and train, depending on which job I'm headed to that day. Normally I bring my iPod to listen to or a book to read, but today I brought my journal with me. I'm planning to enter Lady Glamis' short story contest, which she kindly told me about after I posted a comment to one of her blog entries. (Side note: Also check out the cool birthday contest on Musings of a Palindrome's blog; the deadline for entering that one is May 1st).

So I was bent over my notebook, feeling dubious about the words I was writing because I wasn't sure if they were good enough yet (but I figure I'll write out the first draft and then go back and revise), when I felt someone's hands running through my hair. I whipped my head around, startled, to find a guy sitting behind me. "You have soft hair," he said.

"Don't touch me," I said, before quickly fleeing the train.

Some of my scariest experiences have happened on my daily commute. On the train, everyone is careful not to look at each other, because if you look at the wrong person, he or she will take that as an invitation to freak you out. For example, once I was on a mostly-empty train and I made the mistake of glancing at a guy sitting in the back for more than two seconds. He responded by taking off his pants. I quickly changed trains.

Another time I was getting onto the Orange Line, and I felt someone stroke my arm. That someone was a guy getting off the train at the same time I was boarding it, and he leered at me before walking away. I yelled, "Jerk! Why don't you keep your hands to yourself!" Another guy came on as I was yelling this, and I quickly said to him, "Not you." I then turned around to see a tourist family (complete with wide-eyed small children) with bags from Shedd Aquarium staring at me. I guess they hadn't expected to see that on their tour of the Windy City.


  1. I can't believe people would actually touch you. Shudder. Chicago sounds just like Manhattan. No eye contact.

  2. That is super creepy! :/

    Thanks for following my blog! I look forward to keeping up w/ yours :)

  3. Hi Theresa,
    Manhattan does seem more intimidating to me than Chicago, but I think that I'd still like to go there someday. I'm thinking if I go there I'll probably be the typical writer-tourist, taking a million pictures and writing about everything. :)

    Hi Catherine,
    I was looking around for new blogs to follow and saw that you were an adjunct instructor, like me; I haven't found a lot of other blogs written by adjuncts. And your blog looked really cool too, so I look forward to keeping up with what you write. :)

  4. Aagh, people can be so creepy! Gotta love the CTA.

    I think I have perfected my "don't fuck with me, I'm not as stupid as I look" glare. That said, watch me get mauled on the Purple Line tonight.

  5. Hi maybeimamazed,
    I wish I could perfect that glare. I try not to look at anyone, but even looking up for just one second seems to attract the scary people.

  6. That is completely horrifying. I hate public transit.

    But good luck with the story. Get it all out first before you revise. That's what they tell me anyway. ;)

  7. Ugh, I'm not sure I could deal with public transit. Ever since spending a year in Iraq, constantly being leered at, bumped into and propositioned (not a lot of women on a military base in Baghdad) I have a wider-than-average bubble. I would definitely be PO'd by someone touching my hair or rubbing my arm now that I'm home! Squicky!

  8. Hi Rebecca,
    I'm not a big fan of public transit, but when you don't have a car, what can you do?
    I'm definitely going to have to revise my draft; my first draft is seven pages (too long!). But it feels good to be writing it.

    Hi Guinevere,
    Wow, I can't even imagine what it must have been like on a military base! I guess I just need to be more alert, but I still get caught off guard.