frances in the city

weekend adventures
January 25, 2009, 12:49 am
Filed under: Chicago!

I’ve had a reasonably mellow week. Nothing too extreme. But Friday night was adventure night in Chicago. And by adventure, I mean ADVENTURE.

I went to Hinsdale (one of Chicago’s trillion suburbs) to watch our Nate play tennis. His school doesn’t have an indoor facility on campus, so they take a van about thirty minutes outside the city. I was going to meet his mom and her friends at the tennis club via Metra (Chicago’s train line to the suburbs). If you want the short version, I made it there in time to see him win handily. 

As for the long version: The little travel gods that watch over me on a regular basis took the night off. I left my apartment around 5:20 to catch the 6:00 train that I mapped out earlier in the afternoon. I stopped at the Walgreens on the corner to pick up some Reeses Peanut Butter cups and the necessary cash back so I could buy my train ticket. I walked to the nearby subway stop so I could be at Union Station in time for my train’s departure. After waiting fifteen minutes, that darn blue-line train showed up. I hustled my butt to Union Station and made it to the ticket line by 5:55. Well. It was a looonng line and I missed my train. I bought my ticket and read the sign and saw a train was headed my direction and scheduled to leave in fifteen minutes. So I did a little dance and set off in pursuit of Platform 10 (the entire thing felt very Harry Potter to me). Well, Union Station is easily labeled for Amtrak customers, but they just kind of assumed Metra-users don’t need any direction at all. Which was a bad assumption. It was rush hour and everyone seemed to know where they were going. I followed possibly three different packs of people, hoping they would lead me where I needed to go. Instead I ended up almost in a parking garage, at the entrance of a random bank, and circling the Amtrak ticket counters. Booooo. I finally found my train and my platform and I was terribly relieved. So I got on, sat down, and opened my book. When the ticket-punching man came around to punch my ticket, he asked where I was going. I told him, and he looked at me like I had a third arm and said “You’re on the wrong train. This train makes our first stop at (random Chicago suburb I’ve never heard of).” I stifled my screams and asked what I should do. He wrote some cryptic note on the back of my ticket and told me to take the next train back to Chicago. I cried inside. I did as he said and got off with all these other commuters. I somehow managed to figure out how to get on the other side of the tracks (Did the Metra think they were going to save a bunch of money by not labeling anything??!!) and took the train that came in the next five minutes (I was extremely thankful to not have to wait on the platform for thirty-plus minutes). On the next train the ticket-puncher read the little note and didn’t make me feel bad. Which was nice. All I knew was that I would eventually end up back in Chicago. Apparently the previous train was an express train that skipped my stop, but this train stopped at the Hinsdale station! I was ecstatic to finally be where I was supposed to be! So. Then I walked to the tennis club (exactly where Google Maps said it was) and breathed a gigantic sigh of relief. I was able to ride back with Nate’s mom and her friends, which was wonderful in about six different ways. 

I’m sorry if that was a bit jumbled and confusing, but it was quite an event. Oh my. Just rewriting it stressed me out. But. Now I have completed my maiden Metra voyage and I’ll never have to experience that again.

I’ve spent this lovely Saturday being domestic. The wind chill today is -3, so I decided not to push it. This morning I scrubbed/vacuumed/cleaned our little apartment and baked cookies. 

Tomorrow is round two of Nate’s mega-tennis weekend at Northwestern. I can take Chicago public transportation so I won’t have to bother with the Metra. 

blah blah blah…that’s my weekend!


4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

It’s so comforting to know that somebody else has lived through one of life’s big city nightmares. You have great skill. Love you,

Comment by Dad

I went through one of those “we are here for the people who know what they are doing” experiences this past summer. Taking the public transit in Philly. We went through two stops with no one coming through to check tickets, so I stuck my ticket in some random pocket. THEN someone comes through and asks for a ticket. It took me a minute to locate it with all the pockets stuffed with random receipts from traveling. I’m thinking, why not put a sign SOMEWHERE that says “A ticket agent may pop out at any moment and demand your ticket, so don’t put it in your pocket!”

Comment by Uncle Kenneth

I love your tenacity. I would have given up and gone home. You are the greatest. Love you.

Comment by Grandma

Wow, sounds like quite the trip! But look at what a great story it made! 🙂 Ah yes, adventures in life like that are truly priceless. I hope the “travel gods” are nicer to you next time around 🙂 Glad you made it where you needed to go…and glad Nate won!

Comment by Mel Kreuser

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