Having no cash = bain of my existence

It’s astounding how one moment I can be telling senior management of a multi-billion dollar company how to make even more money, and in the next moment be diving in dumpsters in downtown Naperville looking for another $2.90 to add to the $1 in my wallet so that I can buy a train ticket to get home.

A couple times a week I go visit my client, which is near Naperville – about 35 miles west of downtown Chicago. (Naperville is literally the most stereotypical blissful suburb in America — there’s a study or something to back it up — and it’s regarded as hell on earth by any downtown Chicago dweller.)

I don’t own a car, so when I need to go there for meetings, I either ride with a co-worker or rent a car. Today I had a 10:00 meeting that Tim was also attending, and then an 11:30 with Erik. So when I got to the office this morning, Tim offered me a ride, and Erik said he could bring me back. The kicker was that I was going to have to do my 2:00 client meeting by phone, which wasn’t ideal. So when the 10:00 meeting was over, Tim said he was going to stay for a 3:00 meeting, and that I could ride home with him.

I kinda banked on this, though we didn’t set it in stone. And I knew that I had a couple other options for getting home should he leave me behind: taxi or train.

Long story short, I waved Erik on down the road and opted to stay for the 2:00 meeting, thinking Tim was still around. When I emerged at 3:45, I had a voicemail, an e-mail and a text message from my spies telling me that Tim had already been back downtown in our office for hours.

Traffic into the city anytime after 4:00 is rotten. It takes at least 90 minutes. Sitting in traffic is almost unbearable as a driver, and as far as riding in the back of a taxi – well, I’d rather inject jalapeno juice into my eyeballs than suffer through (a) the long ride, and (b) the carsickness that I made famous when I barfed down my uncle’s back at the age of 5.

So I opted for the train.

I asked around and learned that the shuttle from the client’s office to the train station was leaving at 4:05, and it cost $1.25.  So technically I would be down to about $1.72 including my coins once I paid the fare.

SURELY I could buy a train ticket with my credit card or a check once I got to the station.

The klunky old school bus showed up, and six of us boarded. Ten minutes later we were dumped off at the depot.

And the ticket window was closed. There was no ticket machine. And there was a tattered yellow piece of paper on the window saying “cash only on board to Chicago”.

Fortunately I had my handy dandy Treo along, and I found a Chase bank location about a 15 minute walk away. So I put up my hood, pulled on my gloves, and set out in the -400 degree evening to find cash.

I passed Harris Bank, LaSalle Bank, US Bank, Washington Mutual and Park Ridge Bank. I got frostbite. And just as I approached 155 S. Main (supposedly where Chase was located), I found Starbucks there instead. Sigh. No money there, but alas! A warm oasis! The girls in there told me the bank was two blocks away. I grabbed a tea and trudged on.

Fortunately they were right about the location. I got some money. And I had missed the next train.

With 30 minutes to kill and Ann Taylor Loft right next door, I decided that I MUST warm up a little in there before the big walk back to the train, right? And since I jacket I liked with JUST $23, I had to get it.

Back to the train. Tromp, tromp, tromp, shiver, shiver.

By this time, nearly two hours had passed since I’d left my client.

The train pulled up, I got on, and here I sit. Sigh.

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