Thursday, March 28, 2013

Otis

Seen exiting the Brown Line to Kimball at about 8:40 a.m.

His uniform is that of a classic railroad man, the kind you’d see on a children’s TV show—white-and-blue-striped overalls, matching cap. Otis feels that it’s inappropriate. Why should the CTA issue such a uniform for a train that would never show up on a children’s show? A train crusted in leftover food and spilled drinks, a train filled with crazy people screeching, with homeless people begging. A train that will gladly kill you with its biting third rail.

Like that woman the other week, trapped under Otis’ train for two hours. He helped the firefighters free her, unscrewed some of the metal pieces as they shimmied out her mangled body. He sees her all over the place now, face death pale, lips blood red, body wrapped in mourning black. She gets on and off the trains with the other passengers, on and off, on and off, unnoticed by everyone but Otis. She thought death would be better, but the train is still the same, and she’s just as lonely and miserable as she was in life.

Sometimes Otis’ kids ask him about work, about what the trains are really like, but he never tells them. He hangs his uniforms all the way in the back of his closet. Someday he wants to move his family out to the suburbs, someplace where they have friendlier trains, or no trains at all.

Sometimes I think I have on-weeks and off-weeks in regards to the stories I write for this blog. Unfortunately for you, I think this may be an off week. I'm not loving it. Oh well. It'll get better soon. Hopefully the weather will, too. I'm sick of this prolonged winter. 

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