Staring didn’t accomplish much, though the riders seemed to think that if they looked long and hard enough at the intercom they could make the conductor cease his morning announcements.
It was a rainy Friday morning, not even 7am. You could tell the seasoned Chicago veterans from the newbies by the umbrellas casually dangling from wrists and their nice shoes tied in plastic bags while the legs all around me sported suit pants with sneakers, stockings with rain boots.
Passengers on the L are the same every morning – quietly cranky, desperately avoiding eye contact, and craving complete silence only punctuated by each stop jarringly announced over the intercom.
As the conductor began his daily storytelling section, forehead creases began to deepen while eyes fixated, unmoving, on the phones in front of them. The woman directly in front of me began to shift a bit in her seat, looking up every few moments as if to check if we’d arrived at her stop. Feet shuffled, lungs sighed – I think there was even an eye roll or two. I saw glances exchanged, head shakes, eyes shut momentarily to convey a dramatic resolution to their fate.
In that moment (in their frustration over the man explaining to us how he started working for the CTA in great detail over the intercom) as he held us hostage with his incessant drawl, we forgot to ignore one another.
I cracked a smile, and an older woman with a silk scarf wrapped delicately around her neck shot me a wink.