Every night after work I take a commuter train home to a sleepy suburb outside Chicago. My journey lasts about half an hour. I usually watch documentaries on the way to and from work.

And it is my daily custom on the journey home each night to purchase a 25 ounce oil can of Fosters lager for the ride home. Lest I get dehydrated you understand. It’s a very dry cold here in Chicago.

And for the past nine years I entered the train station through the front door and walked up to the bar and asked the bartender for an unopened Fosters can to-go and got on the train. And I couldn’t imagine that would ever change. And I’m sure the bar owner felt the same. What could ever change? He owned the only bar that you passed right before you got on your half-hour-ish train ride home after a long day. And so every thirsty commuter stopped in right before they got on their trains. Every day. For decades. This is the way it has always been. What could ever change? Nothing.

AND THEN, LO, JUST A FEW MONTHS AGO… a drugstore chain, CVS, opened up in the bowels of the train station. AND IN AMERICA, DRUGSTORES CAN SELL BEER! And their beer is at least half the price of the beer in the train station bar. And you don’t have to tip. AND, they are even more convenient for many commuters than the bar is for architectural reasons you don’t need to know.

So, the bar is screwed. I can only imagine. I haven’t been back in ages. Why would I? The guys at the station bar are feeling the Arctic chill of something better and cheaper than they are.



  1. I think the barman needs to diversify into, say, crack. Unless the drugstore already sells that. It is, after all, a drugstore.

  2. Well that’s the end of the bar I guess. Unless they can create an atmosphere where you would like to hang out a bit, even let the first train go by and stay a little longer.

  3. That’s progress.

  4. yes ben. or he could relax his policy on smoking weed in the bar. i used to have a collection of pictures i took of American neon shop signs that said things like, i kid not, GUNS DRUGS LIQUOR. (what could go wrong there?)

    yes VIK but the problem there is that people just want to grab a beer and get on the train. hardened drinkers will still hang out in the bar but the main source of revenue is now gone. and the whole bar was geared around not hanging out there. it’s a small and not very inviting bar. but maybe that’s the ONLY way to go now.

  5. I know how they could make you hang around Vinnie. Just get a bigass TV and show snooker on it all day long! :D

  6. you got me there Vik. i would hang out there a lot.

  7. Oh, Vinny Vinny Vinny, that CVS has been selling beer out of those barrels for years, since back when that place was an Osco. I used to buy my beer there to get on a train while an intern at 20 (because they also didn’t card). The 24 oz were $1.50 back then. Much, much cheaper than paying at the bar for a beer to go.

  8. I was surprised to find out that it’s illegal to drink alcohol on public transport in London. Like I could crash the bus/tube/rail.

  9. not that one dan. this is a new CVS under the station. at the back. where a lot of people enter the station. near the new market.

  10. Well, guess it’s been 2 years since I’ve been to Ogilvy. But I always entered the station by the CVS on the river, BECAUSE they sold the beer there.

    So now 2 CVS’ in one location. wow.

  11. You should visit the bar again Vinny.

    Find out if they are really desperate, think of a solution and demand free oil cans for the rest of your life.

  12. what would that be nico? hmmm

  13. They’re screwed. Comfort yourself with the fact that they’ve been operating a monopoly all these years. Time to move aside or accept smaller margins.

  14. Vinny,
    When I was a boy, oh so many years ago, I would often visit that same train station bar with my Father at the end of what would inevitably be a great trip into the city to hang around my Dad’s studio.
    A stop at that bar was a sure sign that another long, hard day for my Father was over. I can still smell the stale beer and, back then, the cigarette smoke that the old guys exhaled while laughing at their own joke to a friend. I would stare up at my Father with admiration as he traded banter with the seasoned, thickly accented bartender before they finished the cash-for-a-double-Jack Daniels, rocks, exchange was over. After grabbing his styrofoam cup and taking his first sip Dad would place his hand on the back of my neck and gently lead me to the train. The smile on his face said it all. “I am a man and this is a drink I have earned. This is my son and we are going home.”
    Years later while having the opportunity to work for my Father (enduring much the same commute to Lombard you do to your hometown now) I too would stop at the very same bar on the way out of Dodge. Sometimes with my Father, sometimes without. I remember the first time I bought my Father a drink at that bar: it was one of the proudest days of my life.
    But with or without him, I had earned the right to stop, order a double gin and tonic and try, often miserably, to begin my own relationship with a bartender who had no idea he watched the patron before him grow up. That same proud smile always came to me the same way it did my Dad after that first sip. A smile announcing: “I too am a man and this is a drink I have earned.”
    Some things never change. And some things never should.
    Give the bar another chance, Vin.


  15. i tend to agree john. they’re screwed on the beer front. focus on mixed drinks.

  16. by god chris, that’s the best blog comment ever! it’s a short film. and a documentary! love it.

    and you know what, i AM starting to revisit the bar. i missed the bartenders and their speedy ways with alcohol. i actually lied and told them i was travelling in Europe.

    CVS doesn’t love me! they just want my money.

  17. Switching brands is, usually, easy, and sometimes, convenient, appealing or necessary.

    Switching experiences, habits and stories, not so much. Even if we take some time to realize it.

    After all, and after what the great comment from Chris brilliantly illustrates, we’re social and emotional monkeys.

    Beer-loving monkeys who like to talk about what we like, and find meaning and empathy in it.

    BTW Vinny, hope your renewed interest in the station bar will be properly appreciated. Maybe a mixed drink named in your honour…

  18. yes daniel. ultimately we value humanity over mere cash. and humanity is the key here. and honestly i’m starting to hate CVS. it’s cold.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s