There are two absolutely miserable things that are affecting Chicago right now. One is the weather. The other is Ventra.
You’ve probably either heard about our weather or experienced it yourself. On Monday, Chicago’s temperatures stayed around -12 degrees Fahrenheit for the entirety of the day, with wind chills around -40. I personally stayed indoors, got a ton of things done, and then eventually went crazy because I couldn’t leave the apartment.
Speaking of going crazy, let’s talk Ventra. A couple of months ago, Chicago got rid of its well working Chicago Plus Card that many public transportation riders used and replaced it with a Ventra card. They have had a lot of issues since their launch and Chicagoans are not happy. Google “ventra chicago” for some of the lovely stories.
Combine the weather together with Ventra and you have a very dangerous duo. Here is my story:
On Tuesday we had reached positive temperatures, but they hovered in the low single digits. I decided taking the bus would be best to get to the gym. As I was heading home after my workout, I got a very rude greeting from the Ventra reader on the bus. I had insufficient funds…despite the fact my card was set to automatic reload. I apologized to the bus driver and got off at the next stop. Following this was a series of frustrating interactions. They involved a CVS, cashback, multiple transactions, but no single dollar bills to use for the bus. I decided to walk the rest of the way home.
I was pretty livid that my Ventra card was the reason I was walking home in the cold. As I was almost home, I was still angry and had no feeling left in my hands. I noticed a mail truck trying to get out of some pretty obnoxious snow. It didn’t look like the driver would get out anytime soon. I desperately wanted to go back to my apartment to warm up.
But I decided there was no reason for two people to have a bad day.
I got home and checked our basement to look for some shovels. There weren’t any. I was about to give up, but saw some shovels sitting by the window of the convenience store right below my building. I went in, explained I lived upstairs, and asked if I could borrow the shovel to help the poor mailman. And off I went.
I greeted the mailman and started shoveling. After several attempts of digging and driving, we had made significant progress, but hadn’t quite got the truck out. As we were working, most cars kept driving by. Eventually there was one that stopped. The man put his car in reverse, parked, and ran out to help us. Upon seeing this, a third man stopped his car – right in the middle of the street – and came to our aide as well. Together we all pushed until the truck was back on the road. It felt pretty awesome.
When I first started trending #MakeSomeonesDay, I was focusing on people working customer service jobs. This was also during the holiday season when we were surrounded by the “spirit of the season” and wanted to do good. Now that we’re in January and are focusing on how to avoid this god awful weather, most of that do-good feeling is gone. But what if we found a way to get that feeling back?
I used a quote in a blog last month that’s very relevant here. It’s from my friend Matt Kuhlman who posted this on facebook: “If the World was always as positive and polite as it is around Christmas or when an amazing person dies, it would be a much better place. Maybe we should think about these things 365 days a year, not just 40 or 50 days a year.”
Here’s my challenge to you: Anytime you find yourself going out of your way to go that extra mile for someone else, sum it up on twitter using the hashtag #MakeSomeonesDay. Or if you don’t feel comfortable doing this, find other ways to use the hashtag. Once you get others to start showing gratitude, it really is contagious.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering if the Ventra problem was really my fault the whole time (this thought definitely crossed my mind), I’ve left you a screen shot of my account from Tuesday. Note that the “Transit Autoload Amount” is ON, yet my balance reflects otherwise.
Go #MakeSomeonesDay, everyone….just do it without Ventra.