Another day another Commute

VERB (USED WITHOUT OBJECT) [COM·MUT·ED, COM·MUT·ING.]
·To travel regularly over some distance, as from a suburb into a city and back.
The day in the life of Nicole Speck. The commuting struggle..is real.

Quick Hits

RULES OF THUMB

Rain snow or shine the Metra for the most part is running. I said running not on time! If there is one thing I know about the Metra, it’s the good ole’ Metra delays.

city

One of the WORST delays I’ve had to deal with so far was a little over an hour. So basically doubling my commute time. It was winter..of coarse. By far the worst season according to commuters. It’s cold, wet, dirty, and LATE. Trains brake down, switches don’t switch, and you’re always waiting for a train to pass. Well believe it or not I hit the trifecta. The train in front of me broke down, we had to connect to it (that was a joke), and push it the rest of the way. Oh no it did not stop there.  Than the switches began failing so we found ourselves going backwards at times just to get going in the right direction. A total mess is what it is. What are you going to do. Well I’ll tell you. Especially if there is a storm, plan on catching an earlier train. The train before your usual should suffice. But do not start off your day in a bind because of a Metra delay.

metraWinter in my opinion is the worst season for the Metra, but there is no winning really. In the summer the heat puts a beating on the cars too. Brakes malfunctioning, late trains, you know the deal. Expect delays. End of story.

Due to the fact of my frequent Metra rides it is also in the riders best intrust to get to know the conductors! And yes, I am talking first name basis! It’s nice to know that there will always be one friendly face. It also comes in handy. There have been times where I’ve forgotten my train pass, and had no cash on me. Luckily the conductor knew I had a monthly pass for that month and I was able to ride the train. Talk about coming in handy right? Another thing..I’ll get goodies. I’ve been handed chocolate covered goodies, because the conductor is also close friends with an editable arrangements worker, who happens to hop on the line after work! SCORE! Plus it’s always nice to have someone to talk to once in a while! Trust me..It helps.

Figure out how often you are going to be commuting, and decide which deal is the best for you. When it comes to ticket pricing, commuting can get very pricey. The fact that the “student” discount is only offered to high school students doesn’t help either. I mean seriously. How many high school students are going to be commuting back and forth to Chicago, especially everyday?! EXACTLY. Anyways I commute almost every day, so my bang for my buck is a monthly pass. Another good option is a 10-ride. Do the math, weigh out your options before you go spending all your money on your train fair. Also keep in mind, if you buy your ticket at Union Station it’s cheaper! DON’T FORGET!

Halfway

Rule #2. Seating arrangements. Anyone who is anyone who commutes knows that where you sit on the Metra means everything. I have LITERALLY had the worst experience in this. When it comes to picking a seat I like to stick to a couple things. The time you take the Metra is definitely a contributing factor. If you’re an early bird like me, than we’re usually dealing with business men, lawyers, accountings, computer geeks, in other words the working class. ipod

I’ve learned that in the early hours of the metra usually every car is a quiet car. BUT don’t let that fool you. The quiet car..means quiet, so put a cork in it. Out of all people I’ve broken this rule a few times. Don’t worry I’ve learned my lesson. Learn to respect the rules of the quiet car. If you’re looking to take a cat nap, or catch some Z’s than thats the way to go.

If you are one of those people who does not want to wake up next to a stranger, or worse..someone sleeping on you, than the upper level of the Metra is for you. MY ULTIMATE favorite seat. The upper left back corner seat. WHY? isn’t it obvious. It’s a double seater. But everyone knows that its a one person seat. No one would ever dare to sit with someone in the upper corner seats! Unless they’re invited. But we don’t worry about that. You get a whole window to yourself, and a whole seat. It gets better..No one right next to you, or remotely close. The upper seats are winning.GetAttachmen (1)

If you’re on a train that isn’t during rush hour than hey the bottom seats are always good too. Got to switch it up once in a while. I also tend to stay clear of the orange cars. You know the ones. Why is it that they manage to make me feel like I’ve stepped into a time machine back to the 80’s. It’s probably because the Metra cars ARE from the 80’s!

car

Never be afraid to get up and move. Odds are there is a better seat. Do not endure the pain of a sniffler, or the “music is so loud I can recite every lyric,” the kicking the back of your seat constantly person, someone eating strongly scented food stinking up the whole car, the person who didn’t follow my rule #1 and is now trying to read over your shoulder, or the creepy guy who has absolutely nothing better to do than to stare. We’ve all been there..Think before you sit!

The Beginning

It’s been 6 long, cold blistering months for this girl. The Metra and I, have finally come to a mutual understanding of one another.

Metra Survival Guide

Rule #1. NEVER get on the Metra empty handed. And when I say empty handed I mean it in a couple different ways. You’re going to need your bare necessities. Some..entertainment. Especially for a girl like me, who is on the Metra for a little over an hour and 20 minutes at a time. (SERIOUSLY). metraWhat I usually like to keep on deck: a cup of coffee, a Chicago Tribune, an IPOD/Pandora, H20, a book, and a light snack. With that being said..yes it is unnecessary to have every single item every ride, but it can be the difference between a ride to your doom, or your destination. So pick your poison.

If you aren’t a coffee drinker, might I suggest some caffeinated tea! Some personal favorites; vanilla chai, a black awake tea, green, mango, or raspberry. YUM.

If you aren’t a fan of reading the paper. Grab a magazine, or a puzzle book. If those aren’t your cup of tea either than take advantage of our 21st century technology! There’s only like 1000 apps you can download right on your phone. Examples of free APPS- The Redeye, NFL Mobile, Shortlist Magazine, Stylist Magazine, AUX Magazine, Popular Science, ABC News, CBS Sports, ESPN, NHL, NBA, and honestly I could go all day. You like it, there’s an app. Including book apps and magazines. So no excuses.

As far as music goes. Being a college student, who commutes everyday to the City, I’m pinching pennies. When I don’t have my IPOD, Pandora is my best friend. YES..I hate Pandora commercials, but hey! The best things in life are free. So we’ll take it! Otherwise there’s programs on your phone that will allow you to download music. There you go.

HEY GIRLYS! I’ve really been into this book series. Makes my commuting time FLY! The author is Catherine Clark.

picture latte icing

When it comes to snacking on the train keep it light. Feeling salty? Trail mix is always good. Sweet? Try fruit. Any kind! Apples, bananas, strawberries, cuties (small oranges), etc. I”m also a big fan of dried cherries. Delicious, and not a mess. Pea Pods are easy to pack too just throw them in a sandwich bag! Speaking of sandwiches you can’t go wrong with a ham and cheese, or PB&J. Fast and simple.