Wednesday, January 09, 2013


I have been using public transportation as my sole way of getting from heretothere for over 10 years. And if you include the years that I was a proud Metro Bus baby in DC, we're looking at almost half my life spent trusting civil servants to get me from place to place and the general public to not screw it up too much.

I very rarely have complaints about this way of life. Its much cheaper than owning a car. I could not care less what gas costs and so make much more interesting dinner party conversation. And what with all of the folks I see on a day to day basis, I have plenty of fodder for said dinner party conversation.

And while I have seen quite the cast of characters - nothing has ever really affected me. I've watched people get sick, use the train as their bathroom, use the train as their crack den, make out, break up, I've had people eye my wallet and my cellphone, I've been stuck due to a fire, a person on the tracks, a derailed train. People have said things, done things, and brought things on to trains and buses without me doing much more than momentarily lifting one eye from my New Yorker.

Until Yesterday.

Yesterday, I was on the brown line. I got off at Belmont and immediately onto the red line training waiting for us.

As the train left the station I was suddenly aware of unfamiliar movement. It took a second longer than it should have for me to realize that there were two pigeons on this train with me and the 15-or so other CTA riders. And in the next second, after I realized what was happening, I flipped my shit.

The woman next to me said in a calm voice that indicated that she had recently taken some sort of mood stabilizer that the birds were, "much more afraid of us than we were of them."

"Well, since I can go ahead and guarantee that no human is going to poop on a birds head on this train, I am going to have to disagree with you."

And then I was left with the Sofie's choice of what am I going to let this bird poop on? My hair? No. My favorite scarf. Hell No. I ended up going with my purse which I figured would probably be the easiest to clean and disinfect.

The scariest thing was that occasionally they would stop flying towards you. Like they would just stand on the floor and you would think that they had figured out how to ride the train like normal people. But then they would freak out again and come raging down the corridor.

The distance from Belmont to Addison has never felt so far. Finally we got to the station and everyone got up to the exit. I was standing with three other women, our faces pressed against the door. When, of course, there was that extra moment of the doors being closed when the panic renewed itself as we were now sitting ducks. Or whatever it is that pigeons hunt. So we all screamed and cursed and for that extra second, I felt closer to my Chicago brethren.

The doors opened, I raced to the adjacent car and sat down, thankful that the bird-poop-on-my-stuff scare had abated. I was catching my breath and running my hands over my head, trying to ensure that I really and truly was not covered in bird crap when the man next to me rolled his eyes and shook his head slightly at the crazy girl next to him.

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She's pint-sized and amazing.