Saturday, November 12, 2005

I just got back from my inaugural voyage as a new resident on the elevated train system here in Chicago. I took the Blue line, which is right next to my house all the way to Oak Park to see my friend Jennifer and her extremely charming baby, Noah.

The Blue line actually splits as it gets south of the city, so I had to let one train go by me and waited for the train that I actually needed. Because of the unique nature of this line, I saw a slightly odd thing. When the train to 54/Cermak pulled up, a guy got off and sat down on the bench near me. He was a basically normal-looking guy. A little dorky, a little plump. Shaggy dark hair, Caucasian, olive jacket of some sort, jeans and black boots. Oddly, he smelled of frat boy cologne, which clashed with his non-participator image. I noticed that he sat down rather than leaving the station for the street because we're so far north that people aren't normally worried about transferring from one Blue Line train to the other yet if they got onto the wrong train. Still, his body language was languid and relaxed so he seemed harmless and I didn't think much of it. He got onto my car when I got on and, interestingly, got off at the next stop. So, he got off one train, got on the next one and got off that one again, maybe to wait for the next train?

So, I thought about that for a little while as the train continued on. Then, at one of the stops when the train goes underground in the Loop, he got on the train again!

How did he catch up?! Did the train behind my train overtake us somewhere along the line? Even if that train overtook us, if he maintained his pattern of only staying on each train for one leg of the trip, how did he keep from falling behind? This was 6 or 7 stops later! Did he get off a train somewhere and get on a bus, then go down the escalator to this stop? How did he do that and still catch up to the train that had left him behind?!

Then, at the next stop, he got off again, just like the pattern I had already observed.

Creepy. I think there's a science fiction plot to explain this somehow. Something about a guy coming back in time on several attempts to catch a moment on the El that he's not quite sure when it is. How else to explain it except time travel?

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