Yesterday I decided I need a new job. Not because I dislike my current job. That actually couldn't be further from the truth. While I have my complaints and there are things about my current position that annoy me, overall I know I work with extremely talented lawyers who have done a pretty good job accommodating my needs as a working mom. I don't really have a lot of complaints about my actual job. Certainly not enough for me to actually put together a resume. Instead, I decided I needed a new job because of my commute.
I've complained a lot about my commute. It's an hour and a half each way. While that may sound insane to some of our readers, it's not that crazy in Chicago terms. Lots of people at my office commute that far - or father. True, most of the big commuters are staff, not attorneys, but I love where I live and am not about to trade my backyard swing set for postage-stamp sized lot just to shave 20 minutes off my commute. Besides, even if I wanted to move the housing market is so bad that I probably couldn't give my house away at this point. But I still detest the commute.
Commuting sounds easy: get on train, go to work. Simple. But the actuality of the train is a nightmare. First of all, you have to get to the train. On time. Exactly on time. On the schedule the train sets. And the train itself, by the way, is never actually on schedule. So you wait for the train. Outside. Once the train comes, you get on and try to find a seat that is not next to loud talkers or drunk Cubs fans, ride for an hour and then walk or take a bus to your final destination. All before 9 a.m.
The way home is even worse. Maybe I've had bad train luck, but in my 8 years of commuting I've been on trains that have caught on fire, been in cars where drunk Cubs and Sox fans have literally come fist-to-cuffs over which team is better, and have been "dropped off" at stations 20 + miles from my actual stop because the train simply wasn't going to run any further that night (no explanation given). These incidents don't take into account accidents - which sadly happen much too frequently - downed trees or equipment failure. Metra's motto may be "the way to really fly," but any Metra rider knows the train is truly a gamble. I hate it. And yesterday just confirmed that.
Yesterday, we in the Chicagoland area experienced a weather phenomenon I've never heard of before: a derecho. I don't know what the true definition of a derecho is, but in practical terms it means fast-moving-storm-with-hurricane-like-winds-and-tons-and-tons-of-rain. When I left my house for my 4 minute drive to the train station, all was well in my world. It was hot out, and super sunny. No sign of rain. By the time I parked my car at the station, however, clouds had moved in and it began to feel like rain. I hustled from my car, across the tracks, grateful the train was scheduled to arrive in 2 minutes.
Two minutes too long. Just about the moment I snuggled into the "shelter" with a few dozen other people, the wind picked up and the rain started to pour down in sheets. And when I say pour, I mean pour down. Despite a roof over our heads, all of us were instantly soaked. You can imagine what the 100 plus people who were not in a shelter but were waiting for the train looked like. Umbrellas were of no use - wind gusts exceeded 60 miles per hour. No Totes I know of can withstand that kind of wind. But still, no message from Metra, meaning our train would be there any second.
Except, the train never came. Not ever, never. Instead the storm got worse and we all began wondering if we were, in fact, outside in the middle of a tornado. The shelter began to shake like it was going to come loose. The rain continued to pelt down. And perhaps scariest of all, directly across from us a transformer blew. It was like being across the street from the loudest lightning strike you've ever seen, complete with sparks. Wires went down. Tree limbs went down. And we were stuck. The station was across the way, but to get there, we had to walk about a block and a half and cross the tracks where the transformer had just blown. Not a good option. And from the looks of the sky, the rain wasn't letting up any time soon. We were stuck.
At some point, I sucked it up and decided that I was more at risk standing out in the open among flying tree limbs and downed power lines than crossing the highway that runs parallel to the train tracks in an attempt to find shelter. So I did that. And when the rain eventually stopped, I walked back through the train parking lot and went home. Turns out, that train we were waiting for was cancelled due to the weather about 20 minutes before the storm hit us. Metra simply didn't make an announcement. While I'm glad Metra kept their riders already on the train safe by stopping it, a little warning telling its riders waiting for the train to seek shelter would have been nice.
There have been too many recent tragedies for me to complain much about the damage from the storm. We were lucky, our house escaped major damage (I think) and the biggest issue is the lack of power. Some streets are still closed, but there haven't been any reports of injuries or deaths. And that is something to be grateful about.
But I'm going to have to think about getting that resume together once power gets restored. I don't know that I want to weather any more of those storms no matter how much I like my actual job.