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Thanks for the Help, Mr. Conductor

I was sitting at a bar in River North when a friend of mine called.

“What train are you on?” she asked.

“I’m not. I’m having a beer with some friends. I was planning on taking the 7:40.”

“Well, you might want to take the 8:40,” she begins to explain, “I’m on the 5:46 and we have been sitting for over an hour in Franklin Park because one of the trains in front of us hit a car at York Road.”

So, I ordered a shot of whiskey and settled on taking the 8:40.

An hour and a half later, after stopping to have another beer at the Snuggery in Union Station, I made my way towards the train, and I heard a conductor bellow, “The 8:40 is leaving on time!”

I approached him, curious to know if the trains had started moving again.

“Excuse me, but do you know if the accident has been cleared?”

“The 8:40 is leaving on time!” he bellowed again.

That’s not what I asked. So I thought I would try rephrasing my question.

“Great, but is service still interrupted due to the earlier incident at a grade crossing, or have local authorities released the Milwaukee District West line trains?”

He glanced askance at me. “The 8:40 train is departing at 8:40!” he bellowed again.

I don’t ask much of the conductors. I don’t complain about the heat when it’s too hot or the air when it’s too cold. I don’t lecture them on the finer points of customer service at 6:01 A.M. And I can understand their frustration with petty commuters who quibble over issues outside the realm of their mortal control. I understand that we are brothers–commuters and conductors alike are willing prisoners of the train between Union Station and our final destinations.

But, when I ask a question, the least they can do is answer it, and not pretend I din’t ask it.

So, have you had a conductor piss you off lately? Share you tale of frustration by clicking on the Comment button below.


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