El Etiquette

This is something I have been working on for quite some time.  It is near and dear to my heart, as I take the CTA el home from work every evening.  I thought it was perfect timing too, since the CTA is hosting their penny rides this New Year’s Eve.  But before I dive into what constitutes etiquette on the el, I wanted to highlight my ride home this evening…..

The train came to a jerky stop.  I was standing right in front of the door and spotted a few seats open, so I entered first and headed towards one.  Oh look.  A punk kid with his legs sprawled all over it.

I was about to ask him to move his legs when a girl entering the train in another direction motioned to him and SAT DOWN.  I ride the el 16 stops each night, and most of these dumb blondies get off at Belmont anyway!  Grr…

Luckily, a few stops later, a seat opened up.  I quickly sat down.  At the next stop, a few got off, and in doing so, I was hit IN THE FACE with a HUGE MAN PURSE.

“What do you even HAVE in there sir?” I wanted to scream.  “800 gallons of anti-wrinkle cream?”

10 stops later, the seat next to me was vacated and an older gentleman sat down.  I felt my nostrils enlarge and swallowed back my gag reflex.  Hennessy?  Really?  It’s not even 5:30pm.  Who are you, Kim Jong Il?

Enough was enough.  I started to think evil thoughts and I flipped through my iPod to the Rolling Stones “Paint It Black”.  The angry guitar riffs filled my ear….

I see the red line and I want it painted black

No patrons anymore, I want them to turn black

I see the girls sit down, take seats from men that are old

I have to stand 16 stops and still my darkness grows

I see a homeless man and his clothes are all black

The train is now empty but near me’s where he sat

I have to turn my head and quickly look away

It’s quite clear from the stench he’s drunk beer everyday


That’s enough of my witty song writing skills.  I think you get the picture.  Public transportation etiquette in general has gone down the toilet and I am here to remind everyone what the DOs and DON’Ts are when riding the el trains in Chicago.

DO give me your seat — DON’T take a seat from me

DO make way for me and let me on even if it’s crowded — DON’T touch me….EVER

DO wear deodorant —- DON’T put your stank armpit in my face (I don’t care if you are just holding on)

DO bring your groceries on the train — DON’T eat smelly food on the train

DO talk to your friends — DON’T try to talk to me

DO turn your cell phone on silent — DON’T talk on your cell phone, OR adjust it’s ring tone

DO try to place your bag at your feet  — DON’T wear your huge backpack, take a damn cab

DO bring tissue with you — DON’T sneeze, cough, spit, belch, etc. on me

DO smile at people friendly — DON’T eye-ball me creepily

DO use the restroom before boarding — DON’T mistake the train for the restroom

DO hold the door for the elderly or disabled — DON’T hold the door for your dumb friends

DO sit next to me if the seat is open — DON’T sit next to me if you smell like Hennessy or carrots

DO say thank you to your train operator if you have the chance

That’s all I’ve compiled thus far.  And this is after a few months of research, too.  So take note, be kind and polite when riding public transportation.  Otherwise I might single you out on this blog, and then no ones happy – except me, of course!

~Corie Scarpaci

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