Chronicles of Dumbassery

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I have a feeling this Chronicles of Dumbassery thing isn’t just going to end up being a one-off, as there are just a lot of stupid people out there who I feel need to be called out for their stupidity, even if it is just on my own humble blog here.

As will be a frequent topic in this category, we’re gonna talk about commuters.

Every day, I walk up to Division Street, wait for the #70 CTA bus, take it eastbound to Ashland, where I walk across the street to the CTA Blue Line, which takes me to Clark and Lake station. As those of y'all who’ve visited Chicago know, Clark and Lake is basically the most busy CTA station in the entire system. It is set right into the Loop, and it is also a station for the Blue Line, which basically makes it the central nexus through which a tremendous amount of Chicago’s daily commuters must travel every day. There are two exits to the Blue Line station at the very bottom of Clark and Lake station: one of them leading to the Thompson Center and most of Chicago’s city government, the other leading North which dumps out on Wells just south of Wacker. It is this second, lesser-known exit that I take.

Along the way to this exit I have counted no fewer than three signs which all say the same thing along the lines of “Narrow Exit: No Suitcases or Bicycles!” There are at least three of these signs including a fairly large and highly visible one along the top of the archway where the stairs and escalator going up to that exit are. My point is: if you’re paying any sort of attention to where it is you’re going, it’s very hard to miss these signs. And yet, every single day, I see a clutch of women (for reasons about which I cannot begin to speculate, it is nearly always women and it’s never just one of them) standing around looking confused that they can’t exit with their enormous suitcases. And I mean, every time, it’s not like someone had a small suitcase with them and tried their luck; every single time it’s people with the biggest suitcases I’ve ever seen. Like as in I see these suitcases, and I think, “Wow I didn’t even know you could buy suitcases that big.” And they’re always bewildered, absolutely completely nonplussed at the fact that the vertical turnstiles at the (clearly labeled) narrow exit are not wide enough for a petite woman carrying a suitcase half the size of a goddamn Buick.

So these women are standing around with their enormous albatrosses, looking completely flabbergasted at the throng of people successfully exiting the train station with no problems as they stand there like fucking idiots unable to process the fact that they now have to turn back and walk the few dozen meters to the other exit (which, conveniently, has an elevator for the disabled, which I’m going to go ahead and say includes people who are too stupid to read clearly posted signage). Listen, ladies, I don’t know where it is you’ve traveled from, if it’s your first time in Chicago or what, but even if you can’t read English (and really, if you can’t read English you really shouldn’t be using public transit in the US because we don’t do a good job of translating it to other languages here) there is a helpful illustration on those signs. In fact, I’d say the sign very accurately portrays the vertical turnstile and the very serious risk of getting stuck inside it if you try to cram a person and a Brobdingnagian hobo suitcase through at the same time: a pinching sensation followed immediately by the shame and indignity of interfering with other peoples' commutes. I would’ve said something to them this morning, but I figured there will just be another group of two or three folks who are too stupid to successfully egress from the train station on Monday, and the following day, and every day. There are simply too many to correct, space cadets, but I can at least document them here.

Bonus dumbassery: The queue of people waiting to exit by the turnstile on the left, who are obviously too blind or confounded by the excellence of our dear CTA to notice that there is an identical turnstile on the right that nobody is using.