I avoid taking the CTA these days. For one, it's a big hassle with Teddy. How exactly am I supposed to hold down the button for the disabled entrance, push open the heavy door and drag the stroller through at once? Unclear.
Then there's the CTA's stroller policy, complete with these signs. I have no problem with being courteous, but these rules just don't make sense:
One: keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways. I don't know if these folks have ever traveled the CTA with a stroller, but if I don't stay near the door, I will never be able to get out when my stop comes. Second, if I'm not going to be in the aisle or the doorway, where exactly do you want me to go? Should I pick up the stroller and put it on a pair of seats?
Two: move if a senior or disabled person get on. Yes, good point, but that just seems like common courtesy. There are plenty of single riders who don't do this. Sometimes, people are less than courteous, like the guy who didn't wear deodorant on that sticky July day or the lady whose iPod is turned up so loud that you can easily sing along to her favorite playlist. A Tribune story on the stroller policy noted a man who wouldn't let an old lady off because he was trying to get his kid's stroller on. I agree that that was rude, but I think it's the guy who's to blame. The stroller was just an accessory. He would have probably been trying to push that poor old lady out of the way whether he had a kid in tow or not.
The next one I have no problem with. I am happy to buckle my kid so he doesn't try to perform an escape act while on transit.
The last two really get me though.
"If the bus or train is crowded, you may be requested to fold your stroller before boarding or wait for the next bus or train"
Fold my stroller? And do what with it, exactly? How am I supposed to hold my nearly 30 lb. toddler and the stroller, plus any other crap we may be carrying -- diaper bag, purse, groceries, etc.? I think what they're saying is that I should have two parents on the train, one to carry baby, one to carry stuff. Good idea, but that is not a luxury I always have.
And why should a person with a kid have to be the one to wait for another bus or train? That just seems mean. I don't think we should get special privileges, but it seems odd to single someone out to be left behind because they have a stroller.
And last, the umbrella stroller. Again, good idea, except an umbrella stroller has its problems. First, you can't put a little baby in an umbrella stroller. A kid has to be at least four to six months old, so they can sit up on their own. Second, an umbrella stroller might be fine for a trip to the mall or the zoo, but it's quite impractical for most city travel. You get stuck on every bump in the sidewalk. Umbrella stroller versus snow? No contest. And there's no room for me to stash anything, like my groceries or shopping bags, which are tough to carry, since I'm pushing a stroller and trying to keep my kid happy.
A baby carrier can be a good option sometimes, but not always. Having a baby strapped to me on a hot summer day? No thanks.
A lady once told Liz that parents should always carry their kids, until the kid could walk, and then they should hoof it. I'm guessing that lady never tried carrying a 20-pound butterball of a baby for several hours straight nor has she climbed the millions of stairs at the Argyle red line with a person who takes each stair one at a time.
I understand that some people are rude, and rude people are a bummer. But most parents are just doing their best. They want to stay out of your way. They do not appreciate your stink eye. More than anyone, they don't want their kid to start screaming on the train. They are good citizens, trying to raise good citizens. Can we get the benefit of the doubt and a little understanding that traveling the CTA with a little one is not the easiest of tasks? The trouble with rude people is that they are not conscientious or self-aware. They don't read signs and think to themselves, "Oh! Perhaps I should stop being rude for the benefit of humanity!"
You don't want us to clog up the streets or steal parking spaces with our family-friendly vehicles. But you don't want us to take the CTA either. Should we bike? Then again, a lady recently rolled down the window of her Cadillac to tell me I shouldn't be cycling with Teddy down a quiet residential street. What gives? I guess I should just stay home.
Again, I agree that we should all be courteous. But these little signs make me feel less courteous, not more. Sharing space with others means that sometimes, we get in each other's way. Things are not always easy. Kids cry. People talk too loud. Someone is eating a very smelly sandwich. And kids need to ride in strollers most of the time.
Let's make a deal: I will try to stay out of your way with my giant stroller, and in return, you try to understand that I'm doing my best. Remember how you're always saying that motherhood is the hardest job in the world? Me with a stroller on the CTA is no exception, and I need your kindness, not your scorn.