By Tracy Swartz, RedEye
4:59 PM CST, March 5, 2012
Janet Martin loves to add a dash of honey to your commute.
The CTA customer service agent greets many Brown Line riders with a "honey" and asks them about their day. If they need help getting to the platform, she's always there with an extra hand.
The riders at the Kedzie stop in Albany Park, where Martin works from 6-9:30 a.m., don't just like her. They adore her.
In a post last week on everyblock.com, a Chicago neighborhood discussion board, riders heaped praise on Martin, who has worked at the Chicago, Western and Addison stops in the past few years.
"She's awesome—she remembers everyone too! She notices if you've been away: 'Honey, how have you been? I haven't seen you come by in a while!'" posted Nisha Elliott, 26, of Lincolnwood.
Said another rider: "I wish the CTA could clone her and use her throughout the system. People would love to ride! … Fortunately Kedzie folks have her and love her and she loves us."
Consider that discussion thread an early anniversary present. On Friday, Martin will mark 16 years with the CTA. She said she started at the agency as a conductor at the Howard stop on the Red, Yellow and Purple Lines.
Martin, 52, said she plans to celebrate her sweet 16 by relaxing and working out on her day off. (CTA employees get the day off on their work anniversaries.)
Martin said her favorite part of working at the CTA is meeting and interacting with riders, especially those from out of town. Martin said she likes to show visitors how to ride the CTA and guide them on which Chicago sights to see.
"That's just showing you care, and that's what I love to do," said Martin, who lives in the Illinois Medical District.
The Everyblock post is not the first show of support for Martin. A Lakeview rider praised Martin's warmth three years ago in a letter to Going Public.
When GP met with Martin in May 2009, she was working at the Addison Brown Line stop and finishing training for the Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon, which she completed in 3 hours, 22 minutes and 40 seconds to celebrate her 50th birthday.
For now, she's focusing on celebrating her milestone with the CTA. She hopes there will be more anniversaries to come.
"I'm a Brown Line girl," Martin said. "I'm not going anywhere."
Miller Lite is offering free shuttle service Sunday for the scheduled South Side Irish Parade and March 17 throughout downtown for St. Patrick's Day festivities. Go to millerlitefreerides.com for routes and times.
Play it again
"El Stories," a series of performances of real-life commuter tales, runs Saturdays at the Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $15 at greenhousetheater.org.
The rail Chicago
The Illinois Railway Museum is hosting a tour of CTA lines and yards at 8:45 a.m. March 25, starting from the Harlem/Lake Green Line stop. Tickets are $42 at irm.org. The excursion is a fundraiser for the museum, which is trying to buy a pair of CTA cars slated for retirement.
A weekly dispatch from a CTA station of note
This week: Central Park Pink Line
The artwork inside the entrance of the Central Park stop puts the "lawn" in North Lawndale. The eight-year-old mosaic, called "Cannas and Corn: A Garden Community," features residents turning weeds into wildflowers. Under the title of "hope," there is a picture of carrots, and the theme for the work is: "some seeds go deep." From the station platform, art lovers can also see another street scene mosaic on a nearby building.
Next up: California Blue Line.
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