Interesting or should I say weird people you see on Chicago’s CTA ‘L’ Train

People who skimp on train fares

This morning, as I was scanning my Ventra card to pass through the train gantry, I spotted a man squatting down and squeezing through the gantry so that he did not have to pay the train fare. Interesting. That guy probably did this all the time, cos he looked very at ease doing it, and it took place all in less than 5 seconds.Such behaviors probably happen all the time in Chicago, but it was my first time witnessing it today.

If this were to happen in Singapore, I bet the staff in the control station will do all they can to stop you and nearby commuters will all stare at you. Whereas this morning in Chicago, no one batted an eyelid.

People who pee on the train/platform

Just a few days ago, while I was waiting for the train on the platform, I heard the sound of water dripping. I thought it was the ceiling that was leaking water and turned around to check it out. And oh man, what I saw instead was a man standing right beside me, with water “spraying out” from his pants. Thank goodness his bottom was partially blocked by a pillar, and all I saw was water spraying out. I immediately turned and walked away as quickly as possible.

One thing about boarding Chicago’s CTA train is that there is often a strong stench of pee in the cabins which is really pretty disgusting. But it was my first time witnessing someone peeing in broad daylight, when there were so many other passengers around.

People who ask for money

In Chicago, (or perhaps in the whole of the US?), it is pretty common to see panhandlers and I have had my fair share of meeting these lovely people who have absolutely no qualms about asking for money from strangers. I’ve seen panhandlers walking from one carriage to another, asking for money along the way. I’ve seen a panhandler who launched into a monologue about his state of despair and why he needed money. I’ve also had people asking me to help sign for some petition?(I think), before telling me that after signing it, I need to pay. So far, I’ve never seen any commuter dish out money to them before though.

Talented Musicians

Well, although it all sounded quite bad so far, there are still some positive experiences in taking the CTA train. For me, I really like entering the train platform to be greeted with soothing live music from the buskers. I remember the sense of calm that washed over me when I heard the melodious notes of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” on the quiet train platform on a particular Sunday morning. For some reason, that scene really stayed with me, and it became one of the strangely poignant moments that I will remember about Chicago.