I started work downtown this week. On Wednesday. Weird day to start, right?
My interview was Wednesday morning at eight. By eight fifteen, I was filling out paperwork in HR.
They asked if I was interested in starting right away once I finished signing on a variety of dotted lines.
The absolute best part of the job so far? Riding the rails.
After navigating through the snow the past couple of years, I am more than willing to surrender the keys for a monthly pass on the Rock Island.
I've learned a lot in three days regarding my duties at the front desk in a fairly small high rise. But the bulk of my knowledge this week was discovered on the Metra ride to and from the city each day.
Whether I experienced them first hand or witnessed them from my seat in the second car from the back of the train, I learned plenty. And, so I feel the need to share.
Here is a crash course in commuting to the city each day - Metra for Dummies, if you will.
1 - Deciding on a parking space has more to do with your exit strategy at the end of the day rather than the convenience of a front-row spot at the beginning.
2 - Before you lock the car and head to the station, look up - there is a number - remember that sucker - it's going to come in handy sooner rather than later. And when you figure out which pay box is yours, you'll find stuffing six quarters in the box is a hell of a lot easier than designing a line of attack when considering how to fold a greenback and attempting to shove that sucker in on the fly. I've heard rumors of tokens - I'm googling that shit as soon as I get home.
3 - If you need a ticket and there is an agent on duty, you owe it to yourself to step your ass up to the window - waiting until you get on the train will incur a pricey up charge - copping an attitude because the conductor can't break your hundo is a grave mistake I do not wish to ever witness again.
4 - Not sure which side of the platform the train is boarding - disregard everything your mother ever told you and follow the large crowd.
5 - I prefer to score a seat to myself and let someone else sit down next to me at a later stop rather than having to ask someone already sitting to ride shotgun. Sounds weird - I know. I have issues and I embrace them. In the event you're curious, s0 far - I'm 5 for 5.
6 - There are weirdos on the train. A lot of 'em. I find avoiding eye contact is the best repellent.
7 - I know you're hungry - but your food smells. And you chew like a cow. Don't do it.
8 - While I'm not sure there are rules in place regarding personal grooming practices, I feel the need to address it. Something about a gal removing a shoe and a sock to reveal what looked like a bird claw in dire need of pruning should be discouraged. Once the toenail clippers came out I was officially disgusted.
9 - The sign that says QUIET CAR means exactly that - CAR THAT IS QUIET. No one wants to hear one side of your conversation or whatever the hell you're listening to on YouTube. It's either going to be a long day or it's been a long day and all anyone wants is for you to shut the hell up. In my experience I've yet to see a culprit called out, however, if eye rolls could kill you I am pretty sure I've witnessed plenty of deaths.
10 - They don't call this the Windy City for Nothing - Thursday's gusts as I departed LaSalle St. Station taught me plenty - especially as I got off the escalator and headed for Financial Place - as a gust of wind came across the plaza I was sure grateful I am built sturdy. Bottom line - prepare for any kind of weather - just because it is dry and still when you board doesn't mean it's going to be the same at the final destination. Plan Ahead.
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