Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Heads or Tails #33 (Express)

Today, our benevolent blogging mentor, Barb, wants us to focus our cosmic force (and the text of this week's Heads or Tails) to the word "express."

This, surely, is a natural topic for bloggers who are engaged in the ultimate medium of self-expression. Yes! I can see exactly what is intended here -- how we express ourselves through blogging and focus, refine and clarify our thoughts and emotions in this way.

And that's why, today, I will write about... falling asleep on trains.

There are two types of trains that bring commuters into and out of Chicago, the "Metra" commuter trains -- real railroad trains that run to traditional railroad suburbs on real railroad tracks owned by railroad lines that would be, in their component parts, familiar to students of American History -- the Union Pacific, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. I don't take those.

I take the other trains, which are called "light rail" trains by people who never use them. These are the trains that run down the medians of some of our Chicago expressways, or on elevated tracks, or in subways. Chicagoans refer to these trains as the subway or the "el." What confuses the tourists is when we direct them underground to the "el" -- or point at the elevated tracks to send them to the subway.

I often fall asleep going home on the train -- if I can get a seat. I'll open my book, start to read, and before long I have surrendered into the arms of Morpheus. I haven't slept past my stop more than a handful of times.

I'd argue that falling asleep on trains is fairly normal. When I rode the commuter trains, as a law student, everyone in the entire car would nod off. In those days we had afternoon newspapers, kiddies, real newspapers that published in the afternoon instead of the morning. You'd buy the Daily News on the way to the train, read Mike Royko and drift off to dreamland. You just left your ticket out for the conductor.

Falling asleep on the subway may be slightly more problematic... after all, the train stops more frequently, people are always getting on and off, there are panhandlers and pickpockets and other gritty, urban realities. But we don't have to leave our tickets out, do we?

Usually, of course, I have to sleep sitting down... but there was one time, years ago, when I fell asleep standing up.

The train was crowded and we were all lodged in shoulder to shoulder. I had hold of a pole and out I went.

The train was the Evanston Express.


Barb said...

I fall asleep in the car all the time, so I'm sure I would on a train, too! But standing up? Surely that is something only a man can do. LOL.

Unknown said...

Great post, even though my sister lives in Chicago I have never ridden any of the trains there, but she uses them daily.
Mine is up at The Cafe.

Misty DawnS said...

So, if you are missing from the blogosphere for awhile, we know to come looking for you on a train, because you probably fell asleep and missed your stop hehehe

Have a great Tuesday Curmy.

Dave said...

BN and SF are now one made up of BN and ATSF. UP, though it has bought up stuff is still on its own.

In the east there is CSX and NSF.

Soon there will be some new combinations of initials. Invest now in the companies that build these things, there is a lot of infrastructure that needs work.

And, I love the el. I never rent a car in Chicago. Train and cabs.

Anonymous said...

One and a half years ago I took a 12 hour train ride to Washington DC to visit my son. What a nightmare. We were treated like cattle; it was filthy and two hours late (for a 14 hour ride). No wonder Amtrak is losing money!

Raven said...

Express seems to have brought a lot of trains to the fore... This was interesting. I never fell asleep on commuter trains (Long Island Rail Road), but when I went cross country many moons ago in 1978, those trains for some reason put me to sleep.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Have a wonderful and expressive week.

Patti said...

I enjoyed this post, Curmy. I can fall asleep anywhere. And yes, once upon a time I worked for an afternoon newspaper.

Tumblewords: said...

I can't imagine falling asleep standing up in a train, bus or tram, but I got a kick out of hearing that you did it! Grin. Nice post!