Drive Slow, Homie: A guide to the Chicago EL

21 Jun

The El: Chicago’s third least convenient way to get around.

Why did you to come to Northwestern? “To have access to the amazing city of Chicago,” of course! So you told Aunt Sally and your friends as you bid adieu to your suburb in California/Illinois/New York/Texas/Florida. Arriving in Heavanston you began soaking up the wonderful amenities college-friendly Evanston offers, The Keg, no-ID BYOB restaurants, multi-student homes/brothels and Burger King. But after months, or perhaps years, of frat-hopping and Taco Bell blundering you may reflect on your time at Northwestern and realize Chicago has played only a fraction of the part you envisioned it would as a prospy.

What’s kept you cooped up in the Easy-E? Afraid of the trip into the city aboard the Elevated? Never fear, with this guide to public transit in Chicago you’ll be visiting the equally-crowded Lincoln Park Cozy Noodles in a jiffy, and enjoying your time to get there.

The everything EL guide

How to steal a map
You’ve seen them in dorms and apartments and now you want a piece of Chicago for yourself to pin on your wall next to your Nickelback poster. Worried you’ll get caught? First, consider what the typical Chicagoan will witness aboard the El (see: Dealing with Crazies). Now consider well-dressed, inebriated you (see: Boozing Aboard). The Chicagoan will be delighted you aren’t asking them for money, selling them your invention, enlightening them about a conspiracy, or peeing yourself. So be confident. Still worried? Board the Purple Line North of Noyes between 12 and 2am.

Boozing Aboard
This may be the mostcritical step to enjoying your El ride. Save your Norbucks cup and mix yourself something with a kick. Food and drink aren’t allowed aboard the El, however, so be a doll and don’t spill.

Are you an old-timer with these tricks? Why not try spicin’ it up with an original El drinking game, perhaps? Ideas include drinking whenever someone makes a statement to the train car as a whole, drinking whenever the conductor plays the “doors are closing” message more than once, and drinking at every hilarious stop name (i.e. Jarvis, Bryn Mawr, Argyle, 69th).

El surf
While the Midwest Coast may not offer the salty, shark-infested waters of the Atlantic and Pacific, Chicago does offer a sizable alternative, 20 feet in the air. Assuming you’re properly boozed, simply stand up while the train is stopped and plant a wide stance. Get the attention of the entire car, because what you’re about to do is really cool. Now continue standing, and continue doing so as the El moves and world starts turning. You’ve done it. Then get off the floor and try it again. Insiders tip: the best waves aren’t on the Red and Purple lines. Try Blue instead, it’s faster and with less frequent stops.

You also receive ten points per stop for holding eye contact with a perfect stranger.

Dealing with Crazies
In the course of human events you will meet some incredibly strange people, and most of these will likely occur aboard public transportation. This however, is not a deterrent, but rather an opportunity. Take the time to speak with the urban cowboy determined to set the record straight on “who was here first”, or the gentleman who promises you that when the rich folks get enough money, they’ll put Congress on the moon and enslave you. Even the guy with plastic guitar in the subway deserves to be heard.

Perhaps these lessons will not be taught through Northwestern’s traditional and close-minded curriculum, however they are worth considering and subsequently tweeting. So elevate your mind.

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2 Responses to “Drive Slow, Homie: A guide to the Chicago EL”

  1. dcluebke June 25, 2012 at 7:05 am #

    Hilarious and informative!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. jazzy sunday « (D)aily (L)ife - July 9, 2012

    [...] Samir (above) and I were treated to one of my favorite interactivities of any big city, talking to crazy persons in public transportation. First, we met the homeless man who, after his pants fell, was kicked off the bus (a 5-10 minute [...]

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