Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Word Play

The 10 words searched most frequently online at Merriam Webster in 2005:


The list reads like a recap of the year’s top news stories. Hurricane Katrina: refugee, levee, inept—and possibly contempt and insipid. Bird flu: pandemic. New pope: conclave. Supreme Court nominations: filibuster. Tsunami: tsunami.

Or it could apply to my current frustration with public transit in Chicago. I rely on the El—specifically the Brown and Red lines—to get around town, but for the next six months, my station at Rockwell is closed for renovation. It’s February. It’s cold outside. And now I have to add another half-mile onto my walk to board a train.

I wonder, do any members of the insipid conclave who decided on the construction schedule actually take public transportation?

Are riders not the reason for the CTA’s existence? If so, why do they hold us in such contempt?

Will refugees from the Rockwell station return in August, or will they abandon it permanently in favor of the Western or Francisco stops?

Can I expect the CTA’s inept level of service to improve once my shiny new station re-opens or is the agency’s incompetence so pandemic as to be an incurable condition?

Do I trust the integrity of statements promising the restoration of Rockwell will last “up to six months” and no longer?

I predict popular words along the Brown Line in 2006: prevarication, onerous, dawdling, setback, disgruntlement, vexation, acerbity, fretfulness, disenchantment, automobile.


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