Posts Tagged With: CTA

“Police Activity” on the Red Line + The Irish Oak

Last night, we bypassed the Grand stop on the Red Line due to “police activity”. I used my limited powers of tweet to ask what was going on. @CTAtweet sent me a link to the news story. It turns out someone was actually hit by the Red Line. They had to pull the victim out from under the train. *shivers and crosses herself* See, that’s why I’m afraid to be anywhere near those rumble-strips (the ones they put for passengers so that they don’t step unknowingly off the tracks). Within a week, I’ve heard about a woman getting raped on the Red Line (near my stop), and now someone’s gotten hit. I love me some public transit, but even I’ll have to admit that this stuff is pretty dark.

The blue paint here has raised dots that you would feel under your feet. Hopefully that brings you to attention when your spaced out and wandering about the platform. This just happens to be a picture from a story about a rooster who was stuck on the Blue Line tracks.

Unaware of the incident till much later, I went with a few good people to the Irish Oak. A quaint little Irish bar down on Clark Street, I was really impressed by the atmosphere of the Irish Oak. It’s cozy, lined with empty and signed Jameson whiskey bottles, and the staff is phenomenal. We sat down to the dulcet sounds of Switchfoot, and gave our orders to a busy but cordial waitress.

Now I am not a big fan of drinking in bars for several reasons:

  • I’m stingy.
  • I don’t like how I act when I’m tipsy or drunk. I form don’t words right.
  • I’m a lightweight. So if I order a drink, chances are I’m going to be acting funny halfway through.
  • I want to be keenly aware of my surroundings when I’m navigating the streets on the way back home. I am typically grasping my pepperspray in my pocket, so I don’t want to peg innocent people because I couldn’t aim right. If you’re gonna mess with me, I want to spray you.

She makes pepperspray look fun. Just look at that confident smile!

So while I can’t testify to how well the tenders mix their drinks, I can tell you how great the food was. A regular patron of the bar who was with us that night recommended the “Irish Oak Burger”. Guys, there was so much meat in that burger. The cheese melted over it just right, and the burger buns they use are somewhat sweet and just a little greasy (oh, my stomach just grumbled at the memory of it!) I was craving this reward for the horrible week (which involved a Thursday driven by a 5-Hour Energy shot, coffee, and tea). The fish and chips are also reportedly very good too 🙂

The flash of my phone camera makes the food look radioactive. But do you see that mound of tater-tots? Best tater-tots I've ever eaten. Time to move up a size in blue jeans.

Something else that impressed me about the place was that they had a drink size called “Fishbowls”. For those of you who don’t know what a fishbowl is, it’s typically a really, really large serving of a drink. The ones I’ve seen are usually put in a comically large snifter. This was the first time that I actually saw the drink put into a real fishbowl.

Well-sized, $20 fishbowls for those of you who can actually HOLD your liquor. (I'd probably fall over a quarter of the way through).

If you’re looking for a place to go for St. Patrick’s Day, you may want to look into this place (if there’s room, of course). Check out the food and drink menus to see if prices and drinks appeal to you. As for me, I plan to be at the parade downtown. I’m really excited to see how Chicago’s celebrations compare to Savannah’s! Does anyone have any specific St. Patrick’s Day plans?

The Irish Oak
3511 North Clark Street  

Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 935-6669

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Get up, get up, get going! – The CTA and why I love to use it.

“It’ll be worth it one day” has been my mantra over the past few weeks. I’ve been dragging myself out of bed, through the streets, into school, and into bed, hoping that I can just sleep the weekend away to make up for the sleepless school week. Many of us lead lives like this, in which we’re exhausted and overwhelmed. The freaky, sunless weather doesn’t help either. When life has begun to rake me across coals, sometimes it helps to stop and enjoy the small things in my life.

And dear friends, that brings me to the topic of my blog today: The Chicago Transit Authority, (CTA). 

When I first came to Chicago, I was psyched that public transportation was a big thing. Back at home, we have the sketchy Chatham Area Transit (CAT) buses, but because Savannah is such a spaced-out city, it was best to just have a car if possible.  This should be really neat, I thought to myself. I’ve only used subways when I visited New York or DC. What an adventure this will–

“You b****!”

On my second week in Chicago, I spun around when I heard a sickening thud on the CTA Red Line. A small woman was jumping up and down, crouched, on one of the seats. Another woman was sprawled across another set of seats, holding her cheek with a look of shock and fear on her face. People shifted uncomfortably around them as the small, jumping woman began berating the other woman for touching her. “Don’t you dare touch me!” she shrieked. “Don’t you dare f***ing touch me!” A tall black man stepped between them. “Look, you both need to calm the f*** down,” he said in a soothing voice. He turned to the woman who had been punched. “You need to calm the f*** down.” He turned to the agitated woman: “And you need to calm the f*** down. Okay?” -Red Line

I figured I would just be enjoying the convenience. I didn’t realize what sorts of things I would see. But when I did realize, I began to like the CTA even more. For even though I may be running late (hoping that the bus would just mow pedestrians down *just this once* so I wouldn’t miss my lecture), the buses and trains are wonderful sites for people-watching. Within the swelling, impatient masses of people crowding on and off the transits, there are individual stories unfolding.

Orange Line– Two college-age boys jumped on the Orange Line and announced that they were part of a singing trying to get off the ground. “And we just want you guys to know, we are not bangers!” they said in perfect unison. They performed a great duet, one of them hitting a falsetto so high that made me jerk in alarm. They finished their song as the train approached my stop, but as I exited the train, I heard a woman introducing herself to the boys, saying that she was a talent agent and was interested in representing them.

Orange Line– A young woman and a small toddler sat on the Orange Line, side by side. The toddler was bundled up in a poofy, pink jacket, barely able to move her arms. She begins to fuss, moaning quietly. The young woman beside her snapped “Shut up! I told you to shut up!” The toddler went quiet, then began to fuss again. “I can’t wait to get off this damn train,” the young woman growled, looking at the toddler. At the next stop, a man who had been sitting a few chairs down from me got up, poked the little girl’s shoe, and said “I love your shoe! Have a nice day, okay?” When the young woman and the toddler got off at the next stop, even my boyfriend (who insists children “traps”) gave the little girl a wave (sorry baby, I needed to share that cute moment.)

Bus– I stood at a the bus stop next to a rather large woman who was complaining to a stranger about how people with wheelchairs shouldn’t be using the buses. “Then we have to clear out 4 seats worth of space so they can get on,” the woman squawked, “See, they shouldn’t be using the buses. They have options. They can just– you know,  call some service to come and pick them up instead of holding the rest of us up. They really should make rules about it.” The bus finally pulled up, and when I followed her into the bus, I saw she took up three seats.

Bus— (This is my favorite story) A car driver suddenly cut my bus off at an intersection. The bus driver slammed on the breaks. I grabbed a nearby pole and stifled a scream. Half the people in the bus, however, began to rattle off a long string of loud curses. The most prominent of them all was a little old lady, hair in a bun and tucked under a sweet little hat: “”F*** that f***ing mother****er! He ****ing cut the f***ing bus off! F***er doesn’t know how to f***ing drive!! F***!!”

Blue Line– (this just happened to me tonight) A man with a cane approached me, and asked me if I knew what a violence statistic was. I asked him what it was, and he began to mumble, pulling out three $20 bills. “…but at least I got my health.” I heard him finish. “Well that’s good then.” He eyed me, then said “What are you, FBI?” “I don’t think so.” “Damn FBI. You probably are one. You’re an FBI agent!” He began to mumble again, and then proceeded to accuse me of trying to get legal status in the United States. Thankfully, around this part, we came to my stop and I exited the train.

Those are just a few of the memorable stories I have from the CTA, and people I know have even better ones. It is for witnessing interesting moments such as these that I like riding the trains and buses. I also love it when I get on a crowded bus and have to stand up front. In front of those big big windshields, and what with the crazy maneuvers the bus drivers use to get through heavy traffic, it feels like a theme park ride.
I will probably grow tired of the CTA, and all the germy, greasy, crowdedness that natives here seem to hate with a vengeance. But 6 months into my residency in Chicago, I’m still kinda digging it.
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