How to Walk a Mile in an Idiot’s Shoes

In 2013, I moved to Chicago with bright eyes, an open mind and absolutely no idea how to navigate it. Nearly every person that lives in the city will tell you, “All you have to know is which way the lake is, then you’re set.” When you first move here, I’m going to argue that’s not helpful information unless,

  • you live/work in a high rise
  • you live/work near the lake
  • you’re a human compass
I am none of those things.

A year and a half ago, I went full CTA reliant. Some guy that was probably drinking and driving totaled my barely functioning car and fled the scene. My reaction to that accident was not my proudest moment. I ran down the street chasing his car screaming expletives when I could have been a rational human being and caught the license plate number or snap a photo as the jerk drove off so that I could have pressed charges. A month later, the junk yard came to pick up the old Nissan and gave me a sad $150 for the whole thing.

Now I’m carless and I love it.

I’ve come to enjoy public transit, particularly the El. I live near a Brown Line stop and after living off the Blue and Red Lines, I feel fortunate and spoiled. My chances of sitting alone in a car that doesn’t smell overwhelmingly of stale body odor is much lower. On a related note, it really impresses me how badly humans have the potential of smelling.

The best part about taking the CTA? The time that used to be spent driving on my commutes are now mine to do as I please: read, write, scroll through social media incessantly, the possibilities are endless. Let’s be realistic though, it’s mainly spent scrolling through social media.

The worst part about taking the CTA? Taking busses. I’m terrible at them and I don’t like them. I do what I can to avoid them as often as possible, because when I don’t, here’s what happens:

1 hour and 2.5 miles later, I made it home by foot.

Turns out the furthest north the 52 bus goes is Addison. I could have figured this out in a variety of ways including reading signage, putting 2&2 together, asking for help or I don’t know, maybe using my smart phone to navigate my way home.

Google Maps also offers directions via public transit in Chicago and this may be hard to believe, but it’s very accurate and helpful. 12/10 would recommend unless you want this video to be your future as well.

10 thoughts on “How to Walk a Mile in an Idiot’s Shoes

  1. People keep telling us Philadelphia has great public transit, but it sucks. It’s an extra dollar a ride for a single transfer, and there are no trains anywhere near me. There are buses, but like you said, buses are terrifying and unpredictable. They’re like the hippos of the city; sure, they look big and slow and good natured, but if you get on it’s bad side it will snap you in half and leave you stranded in front of a deli with bars on the windows. Or something.

  2. I’d really love to visit Chicago someday! It seems like such an awesome city! Google maps is definitely my jam most of the time! (It likes to play tricks on me sometimes.)

  3. I so enjoyed this post! I love visiting Chicago. I live in the suburbs so city life’s so exciting- the bus, the train- seems like another world away. I love waze for navigation. You can check out the app.

    1. I love Waze, too! I always used it for road trips because it has a lot of answers when you hit unexpected traffic. Thanks for reading and come back to Chicago very soon. The deep dish is waiting.

  4. Love it! I’ve fallen victim to the 52 bus more than once. I walk most of the time, but knowing how to navigate the CTA is a particularly pride-boosting skill set, especially when tourists ask for directions!

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