Part of my “Hobo Experiment” is to live in as many different friend’s houses as possible. (Not really, but it sure feels like this is what I’m doing.) This week I’m staying at Karla’s house and she lives in Chicago. Literally downtown Chicago. On the Chicago river. Amazing views. (Posted this picture the last time I stayed here.) Karla has become a very dear friend to me – almost like an older sister – one with much more refined taste and one that has far better organizational skills than I have.
So I’m staying here and taking the train. Not too bad, really. There is a romantic image that I seem to have about commuters. They seem to have all this time available to read, catch up on email, knit and who knows what else. The truth is, I don’t really find this to be true. Let’s examine the facts.
- Taking public transportation is good and I think everyone should do it. This is good.
- Taking public transportation is extremely time consuming. Trains tend to be somewhat predictable, buses less so. It takes time to walk to the train/bus stop and it takes time to wait for the train/bus. Then it takes time to commute because you have a million and one stops to make before you get to your ultimate destination. All of this adds up to time. Which translates into getting up earlier in the morning and getting home later in the afternoon because you are taking too much time to walk and wait for trains and buses. This is bad.
- Taking public transportation is also expensive – and I’m not just talking about all the tickets and fares. I’m wearing out my tennis shoes because of all the walking. I can only imagine how many pairs I would go through if I did this all the time. This is bad.
- Taking public transportation is healthy. I generally find this to be true – at least healthy in the sense that I’m getting a good cardiovascular workout 2 times a day. This is good.
- Taking public transportation is detrimental to my health. Because of all the walking that I’m doing my knee has developed a minor inflammation – which basically means that it hurts all the time. This is bad.
- Taking public transportation is also detrimental to breathing. Chicago – being a great and lovely city – is also filled with a great amount of car/train/bus/truck/boat/plane/people emissions. This means that I’m breathing in about 13.7 times the amount of pollution that I usually breathe in. This is bad.
- Taking public transportation is invigorating. I’m actually forced to get out and walk twice a day (albeit a short 4-block walk) and I get to breathe in the nice, fresh air. This is good.
- All in all, by the time I actually get on the train, either in the morning or the afternoon, I am so exhausted from getting up early, walking 4 blocks, sitting around waiting, and rubbing down my knee because it hurts that I can’t do anything on the train but sit and stare out the window as if I am in a trance. I can’t sleep for fear of missing my stop, I’m too tired to read and too exhausted to study. This is bad.
- But, there has to be something said for all the walking that I’m doing. This is good.
So you see, I just don’t understand how people do this all the time. I really commend Teryn for being the public transportation super-guru that she is. I totally admire her for this, cause let’s face it: I’m not cut out for this type of lifestyle. (But for a week, anything is possible!)