If your home college is in the loop (Communications, Business, CDM), then your orientation leaders took you on the CTA to visit the Loop campus on your second day. No matter what, most of us have probably had to take the CTA to get to a class, or will have to eventually. For all of you freshmen out there who have the luxury of being all in Lincoln Park this quarter and are unpracticed in riding L to the Loop I, a DePaul freshman, have chronicled my journey.
Our first mission the Brown Line stop at Harold Washington Library, around 3:15 p.m, after just getting out of my first philosophy class. I have to go to Lincoln Park to pick up some books and do some homework, and knowing that I need to be awake and alert for the journey ahead of me, I stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee before embarking on this voyage..
I ask four different people for directions on my way down from the 9th floor, but as soon as I walk out of the student center, I immediately forget what each of these four people just told me. After about twenty minutes of what should have been a ten minute walk, I finally find the station.
Coffee progress after nervously sipping: 3/4ths full
Victory at last!
I finally get through the turnstiles and immediately become flustered again. What if I get on the wrong train? I know I need to look for the color brown, but what if it takes me the wrong way? I run up to the desk and ask in the youngest, most naive and innocent sounding voice possible, “Hey, which side of the platform do I stand on if I’m going towards Fullerton?” The attendant, without any sort of expression, simply answers me with a point of her finger I dart up the stairs just as a train I could have gotten on is just leaving the station forcing me to wait ten minutes for the next one. Well, shit. I decide to pass the time by taking artsy photos of the train tracks and selfies with my coffee.
Coffee progress: ½ left
I’m starting to get some weird glances from people who seem to think I’m taking pictures of them, so I stop and pretend to be playing with my phone so I can avoid eye contact.
The train finally comes. It’s the right one and everything. Yes! Woohoo!
I get on and sit down on a seat in between the door and the window that gives me a nice view and a great spot to take pictures. This is one of the reasons I take the Brown Line instead of the Red Line. (Another reason being the fact that the Red Line has the faintest aroma of piss.) But, wow, look at that view!
After a few stops, I notice the people getting on are beginning to glare at me with a slight glance to my backpack next to me on my seat. It’s taking up a spot. Whoops. I quickly lift it off and take a selfie (trying to time these perfectly so that no one notices how many pictures I’m taking of myself). The creepy middle-aged man sitting across from me is starting to stare, so maybe I should stop.
An older couple gets on the train just before we get out of the loop. The man has a camera on his neck, and they talk with Irish accents. “Are you from around here?” I ask, not knowing that apparently normal people don’t make small talk like this on the CTA. I get a couple of eyebrows.
It turns out, they’re visiting from Ireland (go figure), and have come to check out the city. I give them my advice about where to go and what to do, and, of course, give them the whole college spiel once they ask about me.
“The next stop will be Fullerton,” the train intercom reminds me one too many times. I think this conductor really likes the announcement system. I stand up and wait, while a young-looking businessman stands by the door and stares at his phone way too long without scrolling for me to think he’s actually reading anything on there. The door opens to Fullerton, people begin getting on, and young businessman is not moving. I need to get off.
The melody “move bitch, get out the way” is playing in my head as I make a break for it.
I make it out the door just in time.
Woo! Victory! I scream internally, as I take my last selfie of this journey.
Coffee progress: 3/4ths gone. I should probably slow down.
Overall, using the CTA was significantly less scary than my suburban parents seemed to have made it. The Brown Line, though it is a bit longer, has a pleasant view of the city before you go and sit through two hours of a lecture. So fear not, fellow freshmen. Contrary to popular belief, taking the CTA does NOT = danger.