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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Red Line Sitting Ducks

Sitting ducks. That is how I feel lately as the Red Line crawls from Fullerton to Chicago. Guess what CTA—if I have figured out that the bomb check is at the Chicago stop of the Red Line, any potential bombers have as well. Why not mix it up a bit? Why not check at North and Clyborn? State and Lake? Berwyn? Why not check the Purple Line or Blue Line? But no. I now have to remember to leave my house 20 minutes earlier than I did the day before the London Bombings to make time for the predictable security check at Chicago. My blood pressure rises when I sit on the train while it crawls through the subway tunnels. I imagine the trains crawling ahead of me and the trains crawling behind me. If a bomb explodes, we are all trapped. Why? Because like clockwork, the CTA is checking at one station along the whole of the Red Line (or along the North Side, I can’t say what happens as you come from the South Side.) Their thought must be, “If we catch them at Chicago, we’ve got them one stop away from the loop. But have given them all the chance in the world to get on the train.”

The muzzled dogs never come on the train, just walk the length of the train while our doors our open. I try not to imagine the bombing that might happen in Chicago. I can’t function with daily fear at that level. I will admit I bought a new pair of sneakers. I no longer wear flip-flops or heels for my commute, but Brooks running shoes. They will be safer in case of an evacuation from the subway or the 70 flights of stairs down from my office.

If there is something else I’ve been learning this week, it is this. The things I worry about—the worst case scenarios—don’t happen. Ronnie being killed in Israel. Losing my job for taking some personal time yesterday. Never being spoken to again because I was honest. My worst fears are never realized. Instead I am blind-sided by something I never imagined. So I need to quit imagining and keep living this life, the one that is happening. This is the one that matters.

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