On a scale of 1-10, a garbled announcement on a CTA train makes my anxiety jump to an 8.
ssshhhhhckrkckr (garbled) Cermak-Chinatown (garblegarblegarble) This train will not stop (garblegarblegarble) Again, (garblegarblegarblegarble) Again, this train will not stop until (garblegarblegarble) shhhhckckcrrr
And that's a rendition of a particularly clear announcement if I'm lucky. If I'm unlucky, which is most of the time, it all sounds like garbled static, with vague human overtones. For all I know, the operator is announcing that he is going to be plunging the train off of the curve at Sheridan in a suicide attempt, because of how fast people grab their shit and run out the doors before they close, leaving me behind.
That's when I suddenly find myself playing CTA Roulette. Should I go out and freeze (or swelter) until the next "immediate follower" comes in 15 minutes? Or should I stay on the train and hope for the best?
Round and round the wheels go, where the train stops, nobody knows.
It's just another anxiety that besets deaf people like me. Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the electronic signage in the new cars. CTA is definitely moving in a positive, accessible direction with that. I just wish that they could put route irregularities on the signs. That's where those signs would really come in handy. I mean, most of us already know which station is next, and we already know not to smoke, gamble, or play the radio on the trains.
It seems logistically simple to have a pre-written message where the operator just types in "Lake" or "Clark/Division" in the blank? Or even a simple message of "Express: Addison" would get the message across.
This would help not only us deaf people, but also others who don't possess the magical skill of decrypting the garbles.
So far, even after three years of living in the city, I keep winning the CTA Roulette.
Now, the other kind of CTA Roulette, as to which car doesn't smell like ass/shit/cigarette smoke/ten years of unwashed body odor, I'm not so lucky at.