The Girl I See Every Day on the Train

blue tote bag

This happens every year.

I ride the subway to and from work during the winter months. Lately I’ve noticed that I’m one of the older people. It’s mostly kids in their twenties. At thirty-six I don’t feel too old to take the train. In NYC you have people in walkers dropping dead on the D line. But here in Chicago the “L” (short for “elevated train”) is a young man’s game. Even the pretty women look too young. They’re twenty-five but look like children. I’m getting older.

Most of my friends who are married with children have moved to the suburbs for some yard and quiet. I don’t blame them. The suburbs are a place where you can focus on family. Who wants to navigate a stroller through Wrigleyville streets during the hour after a Cubs victory? Dudes with painted chests are heaving into sewer grates. It’s funny, for sure. But maybe not ideal for a lactating mother.

Oh, by the way in eighth grade our school hired this performance artist to work with us to do a show. I was chosen along with about ten others and we created a live piece to go along with some dopey Shel Silverstein poems. The artist was this woman that wore this spandex uni and at the end of each practice her front was soaked at the nips. I didn’t understand what was going on at the time. I just assumed she had a sweat thing going on. Anyway, artists are weird.

I’ve written about not being one of those dicks who takes a seat on the train. Stand up if you’re a guy. I ride forty-five minutes each way and have sat down maybe ten times in twelve years. But, as manly and rugged as I am for standing, I am carrying two bags. One is the backpack that I stuff my dog. Technically she’s not allowed on the train but technically she’s not allowed in the grocery store either and I violate that rule weekly. But because I only want to seem like half a weirdo, I don’t wear the backpack when on the train.

There’s a few reasons for this. First, it takes up space. We’re usually crammed in pretty tight and I don’t want to be banging my dog’s skull against some dude’s iPad. Yes we’re all impressed he have the WSJ app loaded up for all to see. The second reason is I wear a suit to work. Nothing looks dorkier than a guy in a suit with a backpack. Lastly, I don’t want to be the guy who’s like, “Hey look at my cute tiny dog in the backpack!” I’ll let iPad guy with the Beats Audio headphones get all the attention.

Also I carry, and I’m not exaggerating or joking, a blue tote bag. This houses my lunch, my keys, a to-do notebook, and some random papers.

blue tote bag

Mine looks exactly like this. I got it free during a charity dog walk I did or some shit.

There’s no pockets, zippers, or anything resembling masculinity. I had a steak knife in there up until yesterday when I saw the blade poking out of the side. I stuffed it in there a few weeks ago to cut a sandwich at work and forgot to take it out. I’d say the odds are good I nicked a few passengers without noticing.

So, between the blue tote bag and the dog backpack I have some cargo. Still I stand. I put these both between my legs. They’re just a little too wide for a normal stance, so I end up wider than I’d like. It’s like I’m starting to go into a groin stretch. I’m sure it looks real normal.

Once again this post totally got away from me. My intention was to write about the cute girl with the nose piercing that I see almost every day. She gets on my train and has been doing so for a good year now. We’ve never spoken and I’m not interested in talking with her, but I’d love it if we gave each other a tip of the cap each morning. In my fantasy world I pull her aside and say, “Hey, nose-stud, every time you get on the train, wink at me and nod your head knowingly. In return I’ll make room over by me for you to stand so you never again have to feel a stranger’s erection against your back. I take care of my own.”

Note – “my own” meant “my friends and family” not “my privates.”

But these things never go well. The moment I say, “Hey, I’m going to talk to you now which nobody else does to each other on the train! Don’t be weirded out that seventeen other people are hearing our conversation,” she’d  think I was hitting on her and then it would be awkward every morning. Or maybe she’s start going to a different car – the ultimate rejection.

So, I’m just going to keep standing with a dog between my legs, a tote next the that, and a spread eagle stance on a crowded train. I’ll keep my mouth shut and my “Hey, I know you!” smiles to myself. Or maybe I’ll talk to her if for no other reason that to report back to you guys. If my next post is, “Pepper Spray Doesn’t Do Dick”  than you know I tried.

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Comments 14

  1. cdrobick

    As someone who rides the el every day – I’d much rather talk to a guy with a wide stance and a bag with a dog in it than deal with the dirt bird who presses his erection into my back.   I say go for pierced-nose girl…

  2. KateHall

    LOL! That was funny. Love your bag and your stance. Although I’m still trying to figure out the connection with the spandex uni chick. Maybe I read too fast.

  3. dblacksword

    Wait . . . you take your dog to work? I love it! You know, I do too, but the guy has to walk himself being too big to carry in a backpack.   But now I’m thinking why doesn’t my dog wear a backpack and carry my stuff for me? huh

  4. tricia n

    So that she doesn’t realize you’ve been planning this, and misunderstand your intention (train-buddy, not next-victim), you need an event to bond over. Doesn’t have to be major – a jolt where everyone lurches to one side, you look at her and say ‘whoa!’ in that way that strangers do. Or catch your dog looking at her, and follow his gaze and do the quick no-teeth smile, as in, ‘you must be OK if my dog likes you’….Not that I’ve thought about this or anything!!

  5. BrothersCat

    Isn’t it strange how commuters  become part of each other’s lives. I live in NYC and had to take two buses to get to high school. The first was us normal kids and working class people, the second snobby private school  girls. Never spoke to anybody on eeither but I recall watching for some of the working people, knowing which stops they got on, and wondering if they were sick or just late if they weren’t at their stop. We always had the same bus driver and although I never spoke to him or vice-versa, the “grown ups” did. Looking back to those days, I agree, even if you are adorable, you’ll freak the nose stud girl out and ruin your relationship if you acknowledge her.

  6. EEK27

    Love this story…the same thing happened to me on the Blue Line L two years ago. I always caught the same train, same car, every morning and I started recognizing the same guy waiting on the platform with me. Per the usual mass transit rules, we didn’t make eye contact or acknowledge each another for the first several months. Eventually, he was kind enough to say good morning, a greeting that seemed harmless enough so I responded. Then one morning, I was climbing up to the platform and the friendly guy met me at the top and explained that they had just announced the train was stopped indefinitely, but if we hurried, we could beat the rest of the platform to a cab and share a ride downtown. Awesome! On the cab ride downtown, we swapped business cards and names, and so began a lovely acquaintance. After the cab ride, we chatted every morning on the train and it made for a nice start to the day.
    Unfortunately, I started going to work an hour later and don’t run into him anymore. I do still follow his blog posts, though…so food for thought. (He writes historical pieces…no competition for your awesomeness, I promise). Moral of the story, if you catch cute girl’s eye wish her a ‘good morning’, retreat to your corner and pray for the day mass transit will fail again so you can be the hero with the last remaining cab!

  7. shelleye

    My vote goes for a little eye contact and smile when you get the chance. Move up slowly (over, say the next two months or so)  to a “good morning” and a tip of your hat (you will need to get a hat). If she doesn’t respond, nothing lost and she doesn’t think you’re a stalker.
    Either way, please report back!
    Most people, I think,  would welcome a little non-creepy human contact during the inhumanity that is public transport.

  8. Barbergirl28

    I just finished reading this book… thanks to this blog post I am now envisioning yourself as the main character in this book. It might be because of the comment “I take care of my own” and erection in the same paragraph. :/

  9. Gwennie

    This has got to be one of my FAVORITE posts you’ve ever written.  I laughed the whole way through it!!!!!!  PS — God, you have issues.  And that is why I <3 you!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Mom of A and a

    Even though you say the post got away from you, it’s still awesome!! Taking a wide stance on a subway train does help you keep your balance! Just sayin’!

  11. Tea

    Your commute story is much less angering than mine, which basically involved getting on the highway, determined every single day to beat Silver Subaru. We’d spend the fifty or so miles passing one another, every single morning. I have since stopped commuting, and I never did get to my exit while in front of him. Talk to nose stud girl.

  12. Melissa

    how am i just finding your blog?
    and how are you the male version of me?
    my fave part of your recent ‘vlog’ was you saying that this ‘supermodel,’ talked a lot and really fast like you, and you were disappointed. totally relatable…don’t ever call me, you would be highly disappointed.
    i cannot stop laughing at your randomness and tangents.
    I get the cat pee issue.Lillian, my cat….she likes to urinate on barbie clothes and winter coats that the kids leave out. personally i think its her big f you for me having some offspring, but i feel your pain. and i go after the kids…’well if you would pick up your things, she wouldn’t pee on them.’ perhaps a tarp to cover the entire playroom is a good investment? let me know how that tarp thing is working for you, because throwing ken’s swim shorts in the laundry is getting a little more ridiculous then rolling out a tarp every night.

    as you were writing about the tarp on the bed i felt the need for a service annoucement free of charge. since you are doing this whole online dating gig what happens if you bring the impromptu girl back to your place after you know your 7th or 8th date, not the first of course, you’re totally a gentleman and you forget about the tarp? im thinking about how that probably wouldn’t be really hot to throw her down on your bed forgetting the piss tarp was there. definite mood killer…you might want to relocate the cats love seat to another room.

    enough random. we totally just met and i am giving you tarp placement advice.
    thanks for the smile.

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