Random Fridays: Train Surfing

Event hough I do not live near the ocean, I still enjoy surfing as much as anyone else (and have ever since watching the movie North Shore).

There is something very satisfying and exciting about catching the perfect wave – everything clicks, and you just seem to almost fly – or at least that is how it feels for me. Where am I surfing? I am surfing on Northwest Highway and I call it “train surfing”. For those that do not know this – Chicagoland has a number of commuter train lines and I happen to drive on a road parallel to the train tracks for about 10 miles every morning. If you can catch it (“the wave”) just right – you can literally go through almost the entire 10 miles without hitting a red light (there are several).

Every once in a great while – if you get in a position to follow an express train – it will cause all the lights to change with you so that you can go straight through. This is something I have only done a few times – but like any great wave – it is all about the chase.

for a good time, take the metra.

Some days are better than others and the people on my train have decided to make the most of the their commute one day a week. If you have ever depended on public transportation, you know that people like to do a lot of the same. Same train, same car (in the train), same seat. Get a few of those people together over multiple years, and soon close friendships form. This is the case with a particular car on one of the evening trains I take. There are about 10 people who, once a week bring in snacks, sometimes fried chicken or a homemade dish, whip out a blender and make frozen margaritas, and have a great time for their hour plus commute home. They even offer the food and drinks to anyone in the car. I, at first got a kick out of them eating homemade food and snacks, but when I saw the blender, I knew they meant business. It is great to see some people walk into that car and then have one of the regulars unexpectedly offer them a drink or some food. You know that the stressed out newcomer is surprised, but it often breeds conversation and at the very least a smile. Way to go Metra regulars!

do not stop on the tracks!

I have taken the Metra (locomotive commuter train) for over seven years now and until about 5 minutes ago, had never been on a train that has hit a person or a car. This morning we hit a car and because I sit in the front car (third seat from the front) when we hit the car it was pretty scary. Even though I did not see it happen (I was playing Rocket Mania)as soon as I heard it and felt the impact my stomach sank. If you live in an area with an active trains DO NOT STOP ON THE TRACKS. Living in Chicago, we have a very active tracks…especially our commuter trains. There is no excuse for stopping on the tracks…ever. The trains give several warning cues that they are coming..I just do not understand why people put themselves in harms way…stupidly. I hope the driver and passengers are ok, but I also hope people on this train and perhaps people who read this will take extra caution next time they are near train tracks.