As of last month my home became eligible for two property tax exemptions. The homeowner exemption and the old man exemption. I was plenty old enough to get the old man exemption last year, but you have to live in your home for one year before they give you these discounts. So I had a choice. I could drive to the county assessor's satellite office out west on Old Orchard Road, or I could take the CTA to the Loop and visit the main office. I've had a 'Reduced Fare' permit burning a hole in my pocket for the last six months and I hadn't ridden the CTA in a couple of years. What would be more exciting, riding the bus/el/subway downtown, or driving myself out to the suburbs and cursing all the old fart drivers? I chose the CTA for the entertainment value. I caught the bus a half a block from the house and rode that to the 'Red Line' train. So easy. The bus was only half full, it was clean, and it didn't smell bad. When I got to the train on Bryn Mawr, again it was only half full and clean. In fact it was all new train cars. Nothing like I remember from years ago. However, other than the air conditioning that worked very well, I kind of missed the old style el cars. For one thing, all the seats are along the sides facing the aisle. So every time the train stopped or started you were thrown side to side. If you don't go with the flow and try to sit upright while it start/stops, you get the fun of feeling your seatmates on either side push into you. Another drawback is that when sitting facing out to the aisle, you are staring across at another mope staring back at you. That is, unless the car is full. If it is full you get the aisle standee's ass in your face.
So the Chicago Transit Authority has all new trains, new busses, and newly rebuilt stations. It looks like it should be one of the best systems around, but it isn't. It took me one hour to get to the Loop. I don't believe the train ever got over thirty miles per hour. It crept along at an agonizingly slow pace, stopping sometimes between stations for no apparent reason while I listened to the half a dozen women sitting near me, talk on their phones. I suppose that's the entertainment value I was looking for. So the CTA isn't all that bad, it did get me to the assessor's office, and I did get my exemptions. Ten percent off my property taxes. Next year I'll be eligible for another exemption, the Senior Freeze Exemption. I guess that trading your virility, your memory, and your looks are a nice trade off for lower property taxes.
Oh, and that trip back home on the CTA, very entertaining. The Peterson Avenue bus driver got into an argument with a passenger. She didn't stop the bus or anything. She just kept shouting back at him to turn off the music or she would put him out of the bus. It deteriorated into name calling of the worst kind, racial. That scared me because I was sitting between the driver and the guy who she was berating. What worried me even more was that I didn't hear any music. Seriously, there was no music playing. So either the bus driver was crazy, or I'm now starting to go deaf. Hmmm... I wonder if there is a property tax, deaf person's exemption?