This is Grand

Anyone who has ever ridden the el in Chicago on a regular basis has at least one funny or unusual story to tell. It’s kind of your reward for putting up with the misery of day after day of sitting next to strangers.

Now someone, Jonathan Messinger actually, has taken it upon himself to gather our stories together on a Web site called This is Grand: Stories of Chicago’s Rapid Transit. Here’s one I’ve picked at random from last August:

LET’S TAKE A POLL by Cecilia Wong

On the morning commute, somewhere between the Sheridan and Grand stops on the Red Line and 8:37AM – 9:05AM.

Young African-American man steps on, stands to address a well-crowded train and begins very precise, if not robotic, rant on Jesus.
YAA: (rant rant rant) God is all-powerful and loves us, but he also knows that he will teach us a lesson if we stray from him. I see everyone and I’m not afraid, because the flesh is just flesh, and I know Jesus will see and judge me
for who I am.
(Rant continues loudly.)

Older Black Man wearing a soft, correctional leg cast (thus far riding in silence) stands up to challenge YAA.
OBM: Young man, do you know what you are talking about? That shit you’re spouting? Pure European myth. M-I-T-H. You see the Pope? Do you think he in Europe knows what I am going through with my spirit in here (points to chest)? A black man in Chicago? You better shut up, all that’s coming out your mouth is pure myth. White man’s myth. M-I-T-H. (Keeps berating YAA, YAA keeps fighting back with his beliefs.)

By the hand of fate (or God, maybe), a Priest walks onto the train and smack-dab into religious controversy.
OBM: (To YAA, pointing to Priest.) And you see this man right here?
I bet he’s gay.
YAA: (Looks speechless at OBM. OBM continues loudly.)
OBM: That man right there is gay! I bet you he is. I think we should take a poll. Everyone in here should vote on whether this man is gay! (points to priest, motions to a lady covering her ears and a woman smirking uncomfortably standing nearby.)
Priest: Yes, please let’s take a poll to decide whether I’m gay or not.(Younger White Male pipes in, takes aim at OBM.)
YWM: Will you shut up? This man has spent his life helping people here, and you just feel the need to insult and harass him for no good reason?
OBM: I think you’re gay too!
YWM: (Scoffs quietly.) Fine. I’m gay too.
OBM: And you know how I know you’re gay? I spent 20 years in the penitentiary and saw all these white boys getting it on.
YWM: Oh? You were in jail for 20 years and I’m gay?

My stop. I’m quite certain that I’ll get flicked with some verbal diarrhea from OBM as I’m forced to walk right through the flying-accusation zone to get off the train. Luckily, the holy war rages on and there’s no time to stop me and I step
off, scotch-free.

Happens all the time! The site includes many other stories by various contributors. You may submit yours too.

UPDATE: There is another site along these lines called CTA tattler. I actually read about it today in RedEye while I was … riding the el. Hey — it was better than looking out the window!