The Red Line Killed Chivalry

I moved to Rogers Park when my husband and I got engaged in 2008.  We are coming up on 4 years since then, which means I have been riding the red line to my job for that same amount of time.  Every day, all the way from the Loop to Loyola - approximately 15 stops.

Over these last 4 years, I have made many an observation that I think anyone who's ever ridden the red line can agree with.

  • For starters, it usually smells like urine/body odor/old booze - stronger in the "secret seat" areas near the front/back of the train, and weaker near the doors
  • When headed north from downtown, Grand is the first stop where no one else can get on because the car is already packed in like a jar of kalamata olives
  • Backpacks become body parts (ie, non-removable without the aid of a chainsaw) and hit other passengers in a variety of other body parts
  • Wise guys try to "balance" themselves without holding on and inevitably step on/fall into other passengers
  • There is a standing-only policy for the elderly, pregnant women and injured

The last point is the intent of this blog.  In the last 4 years, this is the most common occurrence of my rides on the red line and candidly, I am getting sick of it.
I have no problem giving up my seat to those who need it more - by all means, take mine!  But my blood pressure rises when amongst a group of men and myself sitting, I am the one getting up - not any of the able-bodied men.  It is an ever worse offense when a man will rush to an open seat and not check to see if a person in more need and/or a lady is standing.  "Too bad so sad" is the message that action sends, and on the red line, actions speak WAY louder than words.
There must be something about the red line that drives this behavior, because I cannot imagine that these same men would exit the train and let a door slam in someone's (anyone's!) face, or that if they saw an elderly person struggling with something heavy, they wouldn't lend a hand.  But what could it be?  Have the years of sitting in urine soaked seats gone to their heads? Or are they really just heartless?  And why does it seem that all of these clueless men live along my way home?  That's a pretty specific route, although during Cubs season, Addison makes a lot more sense....


I've come up with a couple of hypotheses as to how the red line (or other external factors) killed chivalry - please tell me in the comments if you agree/disagree or have any other suggestions:

  1. The further north you go, the less oxygen available and these men become lightheaded and forget common sense/common courtesy
  2. The urine soaked seats really DID go to their heads - they temporarily black out from the smell
  3. The iGadget era has secretly brainwashed men into believing that those in need are actually just testing them, similar to a "no-blinking" contest - let's see whose stop comes up first (side note - given my stop is Loyola, I almost always win this one)
  4. To ride the red line you must be a unich, hence every man on the train is one or just happens to sing soprana at the Lyric Opera house
  5. "All aboard, the doors are closing" is code for, "chilvary only exists in Disney movies, man, keep your a** where it is!"
  6. They need to sit on their CTA card in order to keep it warm otherwise it won't work or be read by the turnstyles

Regardless, it's sad that in this day and age, that those in need of a seat usually have to wait for the train to empty.  A reminder to all of us, regardless of the train we ride, if you can, give your seat to someone who needs it (this includes females too!).  And gentlemen, start acting like one - you may not think so, but the ladies are watching.


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  • It's not just the red line. It's almost all of them.

    And it's not just the men.

    Women can be twice as obnoxious - I've seen the monster stroller ladies take up 6 seats and not get up when someone elderly or disabled gets on.

    I had surgery on my feet in 2009 and had to take public transportation, during the February snowstorm. The only train where someone constistently offered me a seat was the green line (men and women) and - except for the yellow line - I had taken them all at some point during that time......

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