Life in Chicago
Waiting for the "El" on a blustery winter day in Chicago can really chill you to the bone. Winter winds whipping from the north, combined with sub-zero temps and moisture from Lake Michigan can make a ten-minute wait seem interminable when you're perched high upon a wooden platform praying for a nice, warm train to screech in.
To alleviate that, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) has these nifty enclosed spaces on each platform that are blasted with overhead heat where riders can huddle while waiting for the next train. The spaces are pretty small, only about 15' x 5', but really come in handy when the wind chills approach minus 30 F.
I take the Green Line from the State & Lake station downtown out to work each morning. I've noticed that there are always dozens of pigeons keeping warm in the heat-lamp area that is reserved for CTA passengers. All of us crowd in to the 15 x 5 area but the pigeons don't move and inch.
They're there to stay warm and have absolutely no fear of us people-type of occupants in their space. We've all paid $2.00 to take the train but they're adamant about their intent to just stay there for free, all toasty and warm.
They also poop. A lot. Unfettered. Unabated. With insouciant, careless ease do these pigeons poop. I stand there day after day and think, "If only I could do the same . . . ."
Ever so often, one of them will flutter up and scare the hell out of a female commuter; she'll just scream and freak with her eyes bugged out and big, fat arms waiving in the air, all because of a nervous little pigeon. But the pigeons never freak out. After she hurls herself down the platform, they just sort of meander around, regroup, and remain in the torpidity, oblivious to all us humans around them.
Yesterday, I decided to test them and calmly stepped on one's tail with my big Rockport shoe. It just hopped around in a restrained semicircle around my shoe, that's all. Once I released him, he just remained under the warmth.
I've seen these fearless pigeons every morning and keep forgetting to snap a pic of them. Finally, I remembered, and brought my camera. It was about 15 F this morning with a wind-chill of minus seven-grillion.
I don't think many things epitomize Chicago more than the El's under-the-heat-lamp pigeons.