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Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Secret of My Success

Courtesy: CDC
As a kid, I loved watching movies that showed the daily grind in big cities. Movies like "The Secret of My Success" with Michael J. Fox, where everyone on the crowded street walked in perfect harmony despite all the people and taxis whizzing by. All the women looked smart and beautiful, and I knew I wanted to be just like them someday.

So, here I in Chicago and now taking part in the daily grind, and instead of feeling smart and beautiful, I've never felt more frazzled, crowded, rain-drenched and confused. I'm here to tell ya..the daily commute is so. not. glamorous.

Why didn't the movies show the bleeding blisters? The soaking wet girl who forgot her umbrella? Or the girl who always seems to get on the wrong train. (3 times now. Seriously, why is it so complicated? You go to the brown line stop, you expect you're getting on the brown line train, right? Nope, they throw in a purple line train just to confuse you. Although I did enjoy my long, scenic journey around the Chicago loop. The entire loop.)

What I've learned is that the daily commute is a fine science. You have to be alert, on your game and act very much like a defensive driver. For example, when you walk around the corner of a building, you need to make sure someone isn't coming around at the same time, or you'll smack into each other. You have to get around the slow people on the sidewalk, making sure you don't step in the street, because a cabbie or bus could hit you. You have to look both ways before crossing at a green light, just to make sure a crazy cabbie isn't running a red light. And while waiting to cross the street, you have to make sure your toes aren't too close to the edge, because they could easily get run over.

In terms of public trans, you have to have stamina to run up two flights of stairs when you hear your train coming and you don't want to miss it. You have to make sure you keep your train card in a pocket, so you don't have to fumble through your bag while people are waiting behind you. When the train is full, you have to quickly decide if you'll wait for the next one, or lunge your body onto this one, hoping you can fit.

I don't remember Michael J. Fox giving me a heads up on any of these things.

What I can also say is I have a new found respect for all the men and women in this country who work for 9 hours a day, and spend another 2-4 commuting. Their whole day is either working or trying to work. And from what I've seen, they look pretty darn good doing it.

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