Category Archives: AM – Morning Commute

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning. I’m on the 7:30AM into the City. Its a chilly day for Late May in Chicago. The NF index is 3.

The train just left the station, but the intrepid commuters, who believe that they will reach their destination faster if they were in the lead car versus a comfortable seat a few cars back, stomp through the train as if climbing Everest. If the wheezes and grunts are any indication, Suburbia needs a lot more cardio training.

I am seated in my usual spot in the second train car. My back is facing the firewall separating this half of the compartment with the center-located exit doors. I am in a “jump seat”, flaked by three other commuters and facing the travelers.

The fellow across from me and to my left is a late-thirty-something Desi fellow who reminds me of a dark complected clean shaven Will Wheaton of Star Trek TNG fame. He is well connected. His white iCrackerBot is precariously placed on his lap. The cell signal radiating from the device is slow-broiling his right testicle. He fingers that device while playing with a thin, black iNebula touch screen computer, that he balances in his left hand. All of this high powered wireless entertainment is connected to his head with a large Bluetooth enabled headset. I’ve been hearing stories nowadays. Perhaps he’s an air traffic controller on the clock?

To my left and facing the crowd with me is Tiger Woods. He’s on the phone, reading eScriptures, as part of his personal atonement and to help him get back on top of his game.

Henry Winkler, the train conductor, came by to collect fares.

Also here are Christina Aguilera, a mullet headed Chuck Norris, Chris Evans, Chris Pine, and Paula Dean. All are armed to the teeth.

When the mood takes me, I’ll post.
Happy Wednesday to you.
Safe travels.

Friday, April 24, 2015 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.
I’m on the 7:55AM into the City, after just missing the 7:30AM. Happy Friday to all.

It’s been awhile since I have posted about the comings and goings on the train. Lots of changes happening for the commuter set.

The train is less crowded. This could be due to more telecommuting opportunities. This train is one of the later express trains, so many of the hard working commuter set are packed in on the 7:30, or the very intrepid 7:15 expresses. Or, perhaps the GOP candidates are right. All of that exciting talk of new job growth isn’t translating to mid-level admin, systems analyst, residential home loan account representative, or civil engineer job. Perhaps that growth is in the retail side?

I’d take some time and look at the Bureau of Labor Statistics data, but I’ve got papers to push and contractors to stare down, so I’ll leave it up to WSJ and Bloomberg to sort out.

Well, enough about my random thoughts.

Roger Sterling is here. For those of you unfamiliar, he is the head of the Sterling Cooper advertising agency, documented in the show Mad Men. Our real life version on the train has the stark white hair, but instead of a cutthroat CEO, our Mr. Sterling has a more professor emeritus look about him. The hair is unkempt and has taken on a mid-90’s David Bowie sort of form. The furrows of  his face are spot on like John Slattery’s Sterling. Our man has glasses with the strap, so when he takes them off, the specs hang like a necklace. He’s reading the paper and doing the crosswords. I think he’s going to go to the office, fire and intern and head to Ruth Chris’ for a liquid lunch.

A Desi version of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory is here, seated three seats back. Balding head, thick glasses big ears, the man is seated, with fabulous posture, and either meditating or asleep. The only real difference between our man and Sheldon is our man’s milk chocolate skin tone.

Also here are Issac Asimov, Stephen Chu, Stephen Fry, Molly Ringwald, and Anil Kapoor. All are armed.

Happy Friday
Safe travels.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

I’m on the 7:48AM express, which should have been the 7:28AM express, but was “delayed due to mechanical issues”. The NF Index is two.

Its been awhile since I’ve posted, and I felt that I am doing myself a disservice by having a blogspot but not providing meaningful, or at least updated, content.

The crowd is older. The median age of the commuters in the rear quiet car is at least 52. Extrapolating this reasonable observation, I surmise that the commuter rail customer is aging rapidly.

For example, Cher is here. The superstar diva analog has dyed, jet black hair that, although washed and conditioned, is arrayed as if she just woke up from a night of passionate lovemaking and, using her hands and fingers like a shampoo commercial, set her hair about her head like she just doesn’t care. Her black, brand named faux-fur coat is accented by a white cougar print scarf. Did I say cougar? I meant leopard.

Speaking of powerful women, Gloria Steinem’s stunt double is here. This doppelganger of the powerful woman’s activist is tired, napping on the train as it sways to and fro. Her hair is cut shorter than the actual GS’s hair; more of a Rachel Green look from the second season of Friends than the long, Rachel Welch from Barbarella that Ms. Steinem was wearing at the series finale of The Colbert Report.

Also here are Chris Elliot, Etta James, a bald Liam Neeson, Moriarty from the BBC remake of Sherlock, and a Desi version of Anthony Quinn. For the sake of Liberty and security, everybody is armed.

Happy Tuesday.
Safe travels.

Thursday, October 9, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

I’m on the 8:30AM into the City. This blog is coming full circle.
I started this travelogue two years ago, on advise from two dear friends of mine. One was a literary magazine editor in am past life; the other is a financial reporter. They both saw my original Facebook posts about my train rides as “Studs Terkel-ish, everyman observations” and convinced me, at a college homecoming in 2012, to move the effort to the blogosphere.

Now, I’m on a commuter train inbound to Union Station to catch a connecting Amtrak train to my Alma Mater. One of the realizations of that 2012 visit was that my wife and kids noticed a new energy from me. A spring in my step. So, since 2012, I’ve been taking a four night, three day “constitutional” every October. Today is the first day of this year’s annual pilgrimage.

I can’t help but notice that this is an off-peak, “cattle car” train, which makes more stops (every stop?) along this line. I am used to the constancy of the express trains, where once you are on, you can’t get off until the end of the line.

Sitting two seats in front of me is Conan O’Brian of talkshow fame, except that this fellow is 92 years young. His once Scotch-Irish jawline is now jowled. He didn’t shaved today, so there’s a rugged look about the wrinkles around his mouth. He is aurally fixated with his iCrackerBot, in that he is connected to the device via ear buds. He does not look inspired by the media feeding his eyes and ears, as it is evident he is watching a video.

Behind him, there is an Indo-American fellow who looks EXACTLY like Luther Vandross from the 1970’s, complete with a jet black coif of hair, a trimmed mustache and a good watch. He’s wearing a brown leather jacket. Luther Singh is asleep, his bejeweled hand in a fist so as to balance that tired, but gorgeously groomed, head in rhythmic slumber.

I will blog some more from the Amtrak. Also here are a Gandhi, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Reese Witherspoon and Lou Ferrigno. All are armed.

Happy Thursday. Safe Travels.

Thursday, August 28, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the 7:25AM into the City. Got up early. Went a slightly different route to avoid construction on the (usually) shortest distance from home to station. Barely made the train.

This post will be short, in part because I started this entry late and I’m in shorts. No meetings. No one is at the office except me, working on a submittal and holding down the fort. I get to be ins shorts.

The blonde, pregnant, attractive woman, who reminds me of Alicia Silverstone, is here. She’s engrossed in a torrid page turner from her eReader device. Can we still call them page turners? With the advent of electronic publications, wouldn’t it be fitting to change terminology? I’ve heard the phrase “punching digits” for making a phone call, only because nobody actually dials anymore. “Screen sweeper” perhaps?

There is a young attractive Desi woman here, chocolate brown skin, straight hair parted on her right and draping down just last her shoulders. The teal green long sleeved sweater-blouse is accented by a seashell like neckless. Although also reading from an dreaded or iCrackerBot, she is distinctly aware of her surroundings. She looks too refined to be a student. She must be on her way to work? Newly minted attorney? Possibly.

Also here are Neal Patrick Harris, Allison Janney, the Swedish doctor from the Thor movie, and Pee Wee Herman. All are armed.

Happy Thursday. Safe travels.

Monday, August 25, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the 7:58AM into the City. A crowded train. I was late today because I forgot to account for new construction along the usual route to the station. Twenty five minutes in traffic to go five miles.
I will be taking an alternate route tomorrow.

On the way to the station, I noticed a bus stalled on the side of the road. It was a local bus that takes commuters to the train station. There was no way I was going to catch the train I wanted, so I pulled over behind the stalled bus, opened the door and yelled “Hey! I can fit six people! I’m going to the station!” Three Desi IT professionals sat uncomfortably in the couch seat in back. A pregnant Samoan or Filipino woman and a heaver set Desi man sat in the two bucket seats. A middle aged woman who reminds me of a redheaded Sally Kellerman with short hair sat next to me in the front passenger seat. They were very nice. Not very funny though.

Evidently, people have forgotten how to engage in idle chitchat. We have become so busy and so wrapped up in our electronic lives that we have lost the skill of personal interaction.

The Desi IT guys were the most engaging, immediately thinking I was one of them, which I guess I am. The pregnant woman was the most engaging, in part because she felt safer in the air conditioned van versus the humid and hot sidewalk waiting for the bus. I got a more professional vibe from Sally Kellerman. She was cordial, but also wondering if she should tip me for my trouble. She didn’t tip me. But she did smile at me when I sat down in the jump seat of the front quiet car, as she is sitting two seats over. That was nice.

Its SRO here in the front Quiet Car. A gentleman who looks like Akira Kurosawa is watching a movie while standing up, using his iNotepad. The young, Jessica Chastain looking  woman behind him glanced over at his screen. Showing no sign of revulsion, I presume Kurosawa-san is watching something tame. Had he been on the Kyoto-Tokyo Express, Ms. Chastain’s reaction may have been quite different.

There are two men, one who looks like Marlin Perkins of the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom. The other looks like Richard Kind, but with reddish-dark orange hair. Both are chattering away, albeit quietly but audibly, as thy are looking straight at the blue Quiet Car sign. The profile face in the Quiet Car graphic is white! At least acknowledge that you are being asked to control yourself! For these to big white guys, the rules don’t apply. Nobody is telling them to shut up.

Well, that’s it for now. Also here are Anil Kapoor, Any Sang Su Chi, Jon Hamm, and Judy Baar Topinka. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.

Monday, August 25, 2014 – Inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the 7:58AM into the City. A crowded train. I was late today because I forgot to account for new construction along the usual route to the station. Twenty five minutes in traffic to go five miles.
I will be taking an alternate route tomorrow.

On the way to the station, I noticed a bus stalled on the side of the road. It was a local bus that takes commuters to the train station. There was no way I was going to catch the train I wanted, so I pulled over behind the stalled bus, opened the door and yelled “Hey! I can fit six people! I’m going to the station!” Three Desi IT professionals sat uncomfortably in the couch seat in back. A pregnant Samoan or Filipino woman and a heaver set Desi man sat in the two bucket seats. A middle aged woman who reminds me of a redheaded Sally Kellerman with short hair sat next to me in the front passenger seat. They were very nice. Not very funny though.

Evidently, people have forgotten how to engage in idle chitchat. We have become so busy and so wrapped up in our electronic lives that we have lost the skill of personal interaction.

The Desi IT guys were the most engaging, immediately thinking I was one of them, which I guess I am. The pregnant woman was the most engaging, in part because she felt safer in the air conditioned van versus the humid and hot sidewalk waiting for the bus. I got a more professional vibe from Sally Kellerman. She was cordial, but also wondering if she should tip me for my trouble. She didn’t tip me. But she did smile at me when I sat down in the jump seat of the front quiet car, as she is sitting two seats over. That was nice.

Its SRO here in the front Quiet Car. A gentleman who looks like Akira Kurosawa is watching a movie while standing up, using his iNotepad. The young, Jessica Chastain looking  woman behind him glanced over at his screen. Showing no sign of revulsion, I presume Kurosawa-san is watching something tame. Had he been on the Kyoto-Tokyo Express, Ms. Chastain’s reaction may have been quite different.

There are two men, one who looks like Marlin Perkins of the Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom. The other looks like Richard Kind, but with reddish-dark orange hair. Both are chattering away, albeit quietly but audibly, as thy are looking straight at the blue Quiet Car sign. The profile face in the Quiet Car graphic is white! At least acknowledge that you are being asked to control yourself! For these to big white guys, the rules don’t apply. Nobody is telling them to shut up.

Well, that’s it for now. Also here are Anil Kapoor, Any Sang Su Chi, Jon Hamm, and Judy Baar Topinka. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the bright and cheery 7:30AM into the City. I started typing this post a little late. I was watching John Oliver’s segment about Ferguson, MO from his show Last Week Standing on my iCrackerBot. Illuminating.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO …: http://youtu.be/KUdHIatS36A

Denise Crosby is here. The Star Trek: The Next Generation alumna   has let herself go. The one sitting before me is more than a few replicators past a healthy weight. The sedentary security chief is listening to music or watching a video on her own iCrackerBot. She has hung her vinyl coated, fashionably retro white and black striped purse on the fold away coat hook next to the top of the window well. She smiles with a twinkle escaping her CHiPs sunglasses as she watches John Oliver’s segment about Ferguson, MO.

Also here is a very buffed Fred Armisen of SNL and Portlandia fame. Our bald-cut fellow is in a tailored gray suit, white starched shirt and silver power tie. He has no attaché case. He’s on his iCrackerBot, listening to voice mails.

His shoes need shining. He is a tall fellow – I’m guessing 5′-11″ or so – who is a bit of a slob. His posture is horrible as he slouches in the jump seat, periodically propping his unshined shoes on the unoccupied seat. He has a bit of a gut, which accentuates his lazy demeanor despite the sharp clothes. He’s drinking a yellowish liquid out of a plastic water bottle – a screw top bottle, not a thermos style bottle. I first thought he was holding a urine sample for a drug test until he started chugging from it. Hmph.

Also here are Mike Singletary, Jeff Bezos, George Takei, and Michael Brown’s aunt. All are armed.

Happy Wednesday. Safe travels.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014 – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the bright and cheery 7:30AM into the City. I started typing this post a little late. I was watching John Oliver’s segment about Ferguson, MO from his show Last Week Standing on my iCrackerBot. Illuminating.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Ferguson, MO …: http://youtu.be/KUdHIatS36A

Denise Crosby is here. The Star Trek: The Next Generation alumna   has let herself go. The one sitting before me is more than a few replicators past a healthy weight. The sedentary security chief is listening to music or watching a video on her own iCrackerBot. She has hung her vinyl coated, fashionably retro white and black striped purse on the fold away coat hook next to the top of the window well. She smiles with a twinkle escaping her CHiPs sunglasses as she watches John Oliver’s segment about Ferguson, MO.

Also here is a very buffed Fred Armisen of SNL and Portlandia fame. Our bald-cut fellow is in a tailored gray suit, white starched shirt and silver power tie. He has no attaché case. He’s on his iCrackerBot, listening to voice mails.

His shoes need shining. He is a tall fellow – I’m guessing 5′-11″ or so – who is a bit of a slob. His posture is horrible as he slouches in the jump seat, periodically propping his unshined shoes on the unoccupied seat. He has a bit of a gut, which accentuates his lazy demeanor despite the sharp clothes. He’s drinking a yellowish liquid out of a plastic water bottle – a screw top bottle, not a thermos style bottle. I first thought he was holding a urine sample for a drug test until he started chugging from it. Hmph.

Also here are Mike Singletary, Jeff Bezos, George Takei, and Michael Brown’s aunt. All are armed.

Happy Wednesday. Safe travels.

Monday, August 19, 2014 – inbound – trainspottingChicago

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Good morning.

On the misty 7:30AM into the City. Its a gray day. I hope this isn’t some Shakespearian portend of incoming gloom, because I am a little busy with cleaning up the last gloom and doom.

I am still reeling from the death of my sump pump and the subsequent water logging my basement took last week. With a new sump system and a now dry-but-musty concrete basement, my wife and I are thinking about possibilities. I will need the next few weekends to repair and prime drywalls and purge old tchotchkis and outmoded technologies. Then, repair, then plan for what to do with the space.

Well, enough about my sinking ship.

There is a woman sitting five rows from me, my side, that has caught my eye. She reminds me a bit of Linda Hamilton from the first Terminator movie. She is not unattractive,  she is also not someone that would immediately turn heads. Blonde hair, straight, shoulder length. Long fingers. Mid to late forties. Frown lines. Slightly masculine jawline. Little to no makeup.

She looks battle worn. Tired. Resigned to the life she leads. She has a cocked smile as she reads a book she brought with her on the train. I can only see her head, so I can’t necessarily delve into any more details about her. She’s not wearing any jewelry on her right hand. Given the color of her eyebrows, its highly possible the blonde color is a dye job.

Every woman. The dispatch attendant for a taxi service. A tired office assistant. A stressed out junior attorney that didn’t quite climb the ranks. A divorcee? Who knows?

Contrast to her is a very tall gentleman who reminds me of Eric Cantor. I know he is tall because he is sitting at ninety degree angles at his knees and waist. His head is mere centimeters below the dystopian fluorescent lighting housing of the train car.
Baby blue shirt, silver-gray tie. Nice shoulders for his height. He visits the club three nights a week to work out and drink before going home to the wife and kids. Power broker. No emotion at all from this fellow. I want to guess Wharton School grad, but Kellogg is closer. A nose like Dick York.

Also here are Mike Singletary, Jim Cramer, Ming the Merciless, the bald Bradley Cooper-Ben Kingsley amalgam, and a Slytherin sixth year. All are armed.

Happy Monday. Safe travels.