Two Chicago Winter Encounters
I'm walking around downtown Chicago on a Tuesday afternoon. I've got my headphones on, Beck blaring, gobbling up the noise around me. Typically, I like being able to overhear conversations or try to guess what songs people are blaring from their cars based on the buzzing bass that us pedestrians are subjected to. But right now I feel like being in my own head.
There's an awkward moment where this guy in a suit tries to walk past me...and in the process, he almost runs into me. I put up my hand briefly – as if to say "no worries, dude." And that's that. Or at least that could've been that.
But the guy's still hanging around me. He hasn't quite popped the bubble that is my personal space, but he's getting there. I try to ignore him, maybe even come up with some sort of justification for why he's doing this so I don't get pissed off. But he doesn't stop.
This continues for another fifteen seconds – not a long time, but pretty long as far as CPT (Chicago Pedestrian Time) goes. And then I notice that his lips are moving. This is where I finally take my headphones off.
"Yeah?" I say.
"Acid. Acid. I got acid. Lots and lots of acid. You – "
Again, I put my hand up. "No thanks." I go from walking to power walking, and then the guy disappears behind me, presumably giving the kid taking a smoke break outside SAIC a try.
It's cold. The wind is blowing in my face. I'm wearing sunglasses, even though it's cloudy; I find that it keeps the wind from freezing my eyelids open.
I stop at a crosswalk just after the little red hand stops blinking. The cars zoom around the corner, turning in front of me.
There's something strange about one of the cars. It's a bright red convertible. A couple sits inside it. (They're wearing sunglasses too.) And the top is down. In this terrible, depressing, freeze-your-ass-off weather, the goddamn. Top. Is down.
I can't restrain myself. "Seriously?" I say out loud, to no one in particular.
The light changes. I cross.
And then a realization hits me. That this is how you know when you've lived in Chicago for too long. When you realize that the the passersby trying to sell you acid, the crazy homeless guys, and the occasional hour-long waits for the bus barely make you blink.
But someone driving around downtown Chicago with the top down? In the winter? Well, that shit's fucked up.
at 12:34 PM