The Girl on the Train Has Died

Last night my son was invited to visit a friend who recently moved to St. Charles and my daughter was invited to a costume/slumber party here at home. The plan was that my husband would drive my son out to St. Charles right after school to avoid traffic. I would take the Metra there after getting my daughter to her party. We could have a date in St. Charles and then bring our son home.

I was supposed to take the 5:35 Metra getting in to Geneva at 6:30. When I got to the train station the ticket office was closed, but I wasn’t worried because I knew you could buy a ticket on the train.

At about 6:15 I was alone in my train car when the conductor came through. He asked where I was going, and I told him. He told me the train didn’t go to Geneva, LeFox was the last stop. Apparently, I hadn’t gotten on the 5:35, I’d gotten on the 5:29, because I am always early.

He asked if my car was in Geneva and I explained that my husband was picking me up. He told me to call and see if he could pick me up at LeFox and he’d be back in a few minutes. Of course, my husband agreed to pick me up at LeFox. The conductor came back and asked if it would work out, I said it would. He said, “Oh good, I checked and was going to have them make a special stop for you, but this is better.”

Then he asked where I lived, what I was doing. I explained the situation and mentioned that the ticket office in Oak Park was closed. “Don’t worry about that,” he said. “You’re ok with me. Now, you sit here and relax. I’ll be back in a few minutes to get you because you need to change cars, this car doesn’t open at LeFox.” As promised, he came back for me in time for me to get off the train.

I have to say, I was feeling pretty good. Not just because this is the sort of nice, friendly story I don’t get much of in Chicago, but because, to be honest, when I’m treated this well it usually means I look good. Pretty has its own privilege.

So I get off the train feeling sassy and cute and my husband meets me and we go off to a hip tapas restaurant. It’s the kind of place where they don’t take reservations, and you may wind up sharing a table with people you don’t know. Between the “mood lighting” and the teeny type on the menu, neither one of us can see anything. We are fussing with the candle, trying to use our phones, anything to see the delicious cocktail choices we’ve read about. The waitress comes over and asks if she can get us anything.

I’m not sure how, but suddenly I have transformed. I am not a cute girl who does not have to pay for her train ticket, a girl for whom the conductor will make an unscheduled stop, I am a cranky middle aged Jewish woman out to eat. I hear myself say, a little too loudly, “How about a flashlight, honey?”

I am contemplating what has just happened, I am wondering what is going through the waitress’ mind, what is going through the minds of the three thirty-somethings at the end of the table drinking the Margaritas they had no trouble ordering. I am thinking that at least the moment in all it’s mortifying reality is over and then, the waitress offers to show me how to use the flashlight on my phone.

When dinner is over we leave, but not before I have asked the waitress to wrap up the four remaining bites of the delicious corn. Nu? I’ve already come this far, I should let the corn go to waste?


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