You can stop looking for that check in the mail. Chances are it’s been dumped! Four Chicago mail carriers alone disposed of more than 2,100 pieces of deliverable mail this year. U.S. attorney spokesman Randall Samborn says statistics aren’t compiled yet for ’97, but he believes there may have been as many as 20 such cases by October. On the brighter side, Samborn also says “a couple dozen a year is normal.”

Can you find four pieces of mail hidden in this map right where those mail carriers allegedly dumped their bundles? Hint: one tossed his mail in a garbage can behind his own house, one threw hers behind the post office where she worked while another threw it in a dumpster not far from his post office, and one ditched his mail in a ditch. Good luck, and don’t bother looking in any mailboxes!

–Cate Plys

What’s Wrong With These Terrorists?

What could be more foolish than taking hostages in a place that commandos can surround and storm at their leisure? (Besides hijacking a plane, that is!) This year saw two high-profile hostage situations: the Republic of Texas standoff and the takeover of the Japanese embassy in Lima, Peru. The Texas rebels made their first mistake by holing up in a trailer, calling it their “embassy.” The slightly smarter Tupac Amaru guerrillas in Peru picked a real embassy, roomy enough that the hostages could stay upstairs while their captors played soccer downstairs. Still, Peruvian commandos blasted their way in from tunnels beneath the embassy floor and slaughtered the rebels in about 15 minutes. An army officer told Time magazine that whenever a commando ran past a rebel corpse, he’d shoot it again just to be safe: “Each terrorist must have had 500 bullets in him when it was over. Their heads were destroyed.” Yuck! This cross section of the Japanese embassy shows the rebels making seven incredibly stupid mistakes that got them all killed. Can you spot the errors? Answers on back. –Cate Plys

Help Baby Richard Find the Warburtons

Grab your pencil and see if you can right the horrific wrong that yet another year has failed to undo. With Otakar Kirchner shacking up with some doxy and Daniela filing for parental rights, there seemed some chance that in 1997 Baby Richard might find his way back to the loving embrace of the Warburtons.

It hasn’t happened yet. You can help Baby Richard reach the Only Family He Has Ever Known without stumbling back into Otakar’s clutches. And watch out for the meddling hand of the evil Judge Heiple!

–Ed Gold

Spot the Impostor

These signs are based on REAL ones posted by the CTA this year–all except one!

Can you spot the fake?

Service Changes

Effective Sunday, October 5, 1997

To our customers: Service cuts are unfortunately necessary to balance our budget, control costs, and strengthen our core system. These changes include elimination of most nighttime service to Austin, Pilsen, Humboldt Park, North Lawndale, and Kenwood-Oakdale.

The CTA apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause you. We hope you will be able to use alternative services identified.

Attention Passengers

In 5 days there will no longer be a ticket-booth agent at this station.

The CTA apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Effective Sunday, November 9, 1997

The Blue and Red Lines will complete the CTA’s conversion to one-person train operations.

During this period of conversion to one-person train operations, travel times are expected to increase 5 to 7 minutes.

The CTA apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Your Train Is On Fire

We realize that burning to death is extremely painful, and we are trying to rectify the situation.

However, during this period of conversion to one-person train operations, passenger evacuations may take longer. Plus, there’s no one at the ticket booth to help out. Fortunately, the decline in ridership caused by recent service cuts ensures that there are fewer of you in danger than there otherwise might have been.

The CTA apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause you.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Illustrations by Robert Leighton.