The 8:13am Metra Union Pacific West express from Elburn stops in my town each morning on its way to the Olgivie Transportation Center.
Being a creature of habit, I ride in the back-half of the third car. It's a "double-decker" train, offering a narrow second level of seats on each side of the train for passengers like me who prefer a little more elbow room.
Starting Monday of this week, instead of reading the newspaper or catching up on email, I've been bent over my Nintendo DS.
"What are you playing?" asked Passenger Tim on Monday. Tim is a sysadmin for the Tribune Company.
I looked up, looked down, then closed the lid.
Tim brings his DS from time to time. He had his on Monday.
I shook my head.
He brightened a bit. "Come on, I'll set up download play and we can race."
"Sorry, I can't. I'm levelling up."
Tim understands what levelling up means.
"What are you playing?"
I sighed. "Pokemon."
He gulped so hard I thought he'd choke.
"Um, Bob, that's a game for kids."
"Exactly. Which is why I have to level up. Otherwise mine will crush me when I get home and he wants to play."
By this time a few of the other riders had tuned in to the discussion. One older gentleman across the aisle shook his head knowingly.
"Buddy, there's no way around it. You can't beat a nine year old at Pokemon. Believe me, I've tried."
Another rider, a gentleman in a suit with the sort of polished look you'd expect of a lawyer, nodded.
"I can't win either. Last night I brought a stone pokemon, he brought a grass. It wasn't pretty."
"Come on, you have to know that," replied the older gentleman. "Save your stone for the flyers."
We all nodded. Because we all knew.
"Better get back to that," offered Tim. "Do you have Exp Share for your backups?"
I flipped open the lid on the DS. "Give me some credit. I might be doomed, but I'm going to go down swinging."
More nods of agreement, then each man went back to his solitary morning pursuits: Tim to his book, the older gentleman to his paper, the polished man to his laptop.
And me to levelling-up.