I happened to have an especially rough workday today. I had a sit-down with the only seminormal sort in the bullpen — the one fellow in suite such-and-such who didn’t pretend that the Internet gymnastics we each perform on a daily basis are a religious rite — and I found out he was giving notice because the environment was “just too miserable.” He cited passive-aggressive behavior, ineffective management, disinterest among the staff, and a generally tense milieu as his reasons. I can’t say I blame him.
The train, too, had given him cause for departure. The good old Blue line — we wise former Chicago-eastsiders know it’s not quite half as bad as its downright dangerous cousin the Red line — its sporadically underground, steamy-armpit stations like Logan Square and Belmont, the mixture of conspicuous hipster-yuppies, muted working-class types, and full-blown suits riding, together and disinterested, into the mouth of Chicago’s Loop.
We all hurry up or down ruddy CTA stairs only to wait at the edge of the motionless platform, to stumble into gaping-maw mechanized doors onto ribbed-metal and hard-plastic train cars and then to wait again, shuffled to and fro amid the human-cattle tide within the train car’s entrails. As the inhale and exhale of inbound and outbound travelers inflates and contracts it’s all eyes downward, watching iPods, iPads, iPhones, Kindles, paperbacks, and sometimes feet. We don’t look at each other anymore.
We ride and rush and gush out of halting trains at different points within the city proper. The rush-hour crowd teems and bursts out of cavernous underground bunkers to hurry onto an eight- or ten-hour wait – until life and the commute begin again later that night.