The plan was to wake up early, get to work an hour earlier to leave work an hour earlier, get to the Skokie Swift by 4:15 & downtown by 5, out of the NetFlix focus group by 6:30 and home before 8.
Things didn't go quite as planned. However, the ultimate result remained the same.
By the time I got to the parking lot in Skokie, the Train was on the rail waiting for me. (For those out of towners - the "Skokie Swift" is an express CTA train that goes from Skokie to a downtown transfer point and back). It was also there when I was paying for parking, but after I had charged up my fare card, and got through the turnstile, I watched it leave... That cost me 15 minutes.
At just after 5 pm, about to just head underground, I phoned the focus group office to say I was running late - but I would be there... I didn't walk into the place until 5:20 (a full 15 minutes after I was supposed to be there and 5 minutes after the focus group was about to begin.)
I sign a sheet upon check in - and was surprised to realize I'm only the 3rd one there. I take a seat next to two other men that are in my demographic, but less than one Amy Winehouse track on my iPod later they're both called away leaving me behind.
As soon as they are out of earshot I am told that they overbook these groups on purpose, that I am not needed - but will still get compensated 6 months of NetFlix for free.
The platform beneath the corner of State & Grand is packed. It's 5:30 and the amount of business casual and New Balance is suffocating... Suffocating to the fact that the next train arrives at the stop at full capacity. That doesn't stop people from boarding the train. I decide to lay low, I'm in no rush. the next train is equally as packed, but by this time I'm surrounded by highly attractive tanned downtown shoppers. It was like the major league of mall beauty. Take every hot girl you remember from high school walking a mall and add 10 years of added beauty.
Obviously, this is the train that I want to get packed into a sardine can with, but sadly - America's Next Top eL train departs without me.
By the time the third train arrives, I know exactly where the doors line up on the platform - and I'm there to push in no matter what. The next 25 minutes of my existence are in constant contact with 3-4 strangers - depending on the momentum. One bumps me right into the next.
After every average to above average attractive person gets off the train at the Addison stop, I'm able to breath again... I return to my condo shortly before 7:30.
Was all this worth it? Only my queue will tell...