Thursday, May 27, 2010

One mind-broadening experience in exchange for another

For the last couple of years, I've commuted to work via bus and CTA train (the subway/elevated trains). Here's what the inside of a CTA train looks like:



We've just moved, so now I no longer take CTA to work, I take a Metra train. Here's what the inside of a Metra train looks like:


When I took CTA, the stop I got off at was 1 block from my office. Counting the street I had to cross (and often wait at for the light to change), my walk from train to office was about 2 minutes.

Now that I'm on Metra, my walk is about 20 minutes if I'm strolling, 15 if I'm power-walking.

For the first couple years that I worked downtown, I took the Metra, so I know the route well. It's funny, now, noticing the differences in the 2 methods of commuting.

On CTA
~ Noisier
~ All kinds of people (different classes, races, languages, smells, states of intoxication)

On Metra
~ Except for the train cars holding large groups of co-workers who are having "happy hour" on the train home (alcohol is allowed at certain times of day), the cars are mostly quiet. When someone speaks on the phone, it's in hushed tones.
~ Mostly middle & upper class people, mostly White.

Something interesting to me is that in certain suburbs, there are both CTA trains and Metra trains that go to the same location. CTA trains run more frequently and later, have less delays (at least during rush hour) and are less expensive. Yet some people choose to ride Metra instead.

I'm trading certain things by riding Metra (CTA doesn't come out to where we moved to). No longer am I exposed to the immigrant population I was before. No longer will I hear languages other than English spoken on a daily basis on my commute, and that was the main place I was exposed to that, for 2 hours a day, Monday-Friday. Now, for 2 hours each day, it will be quiet time.

BUT!

Now that I have a longer walk to work, I get to see homeless person after homeless person! I've noticed, on my 2 days taking Metra so far, that the number of homeless people I pass has risen quite a bit. I used to pass 3-4 on my walk. Now it's more like 10.

Sigh.


Time to start carrying change in my pockets for easy access again.


1 comment:

the cottage child said...

Well....yes, I think you should view it as another mind broadening experience. And not just exposure to homeless folks, though that can certainly be eye-opening, but also to a new group of people who might just need to know someone exactly like you. It might be less interesting to ride a train where the group is less varied, but that doesn't mean the individuals are less individual. Diversity is in the heart not the skin, or even the language, and ministry is where you look around at people and do what you can to encourage them, right?

I think you're right where you're supposed to be. Open hearts like yours are needed everywhere.

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