Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chicago, Chicago, You'll Love It.

Whenever people go to or come back from a foreign country you'll often hear them talk about "culture shock". This is the idea that when changing cultures rapidly, your mind, having forgot how different things are in different parts of the world I guess, can't quite grasp the severity of the differences. And, it takes a little time to adjust.

After the perfect storm had swept through southeast Kentucky, I was pretty tired. I guess 12 hour days of instructing and motivating college students to do work they have no idea how to do takes it out of you. So, I decided to take a trip home to Chicago for 4 days, to see some people and relax before we have groups of high school kids coming in. Which, by the way, should be the most retched thing ever because they 1. can't use power tools and 2. can't get on ladders. which basically means, we're going to be doing a lot of siding and painting.

The differences are staggering really, between Chicago and Mckee, North and South. Mainly, the speed is so different. People in the city are just motivated to get things done and keep busy. You won't ever see business men in McKee running down the street in suits WHILE talking on their cell phones. Also, I've noticed that more and more people in the city are wearing those ear piece cell phones while they are driving and walking around. This often freaks me out because if they have their head turned so you can't see the ear piece, it looks like they're talking to themselves, or to me. I've even had someone on the train say, "hey, what's up" into their phone which I could not see because it was on the other side of their head. So I responded, "oh, not much man." He then turned to me as if *I* was the crazy one.

Driving is another thing. In the south, for those of you who have never been, people just randomly wave to each other all the time. In cars, on the streets, if people see you in their town, they figure that you are probably friends or at least should be, so they wave. Also, if you're driving in a pickup truck and you see another pickup truck, you will often give the one fingered wave off the top of the steering wheel as if to say, "we both drive trucks and thus are friends." So if you are in a pickup truck and you see another pickup truck, give them a wave ... unless of course it is a Toyota pickup. Then you should not make eye contact. But, for the most part people are overly friendly. Well yesterday, I was sitting in a parking lot in Wilmette, just sitting there minding my own business and this man in a beat up Ford Focus drives past me, yelling some incomprehensible gibberish (it may have been Spanish) out the window, honking the horn and waving his fist at me. I had no idea why, maybe I was in his way or he was concerned I was going to pull out of my spot, but I thought it quite odd. I tried to wave at him, but that seemed to enrage him even more.

Then, walking through the streets of Wilmette and Evanston, I was struck at the luxury of absolutely everything in some areas. The SUV's, the perfect 3 million dollar houses with stained wood soffit, brick masonry and polished copper gutters. It is a completely different world to go from considering which car to drive today to discussing if our house can afford to buy cheese this week. The determinants of what define luxury are worlds apart.

All of these events lead me to believe that I will never return to a city. But, as I was thinking this, I thought how much I enjoyed the drive up town, past Comiskey Park, how much I enjoyed my visit to St. Mary of the Angels church on the near west side for Eucharistic Adoration, how much I enjoyed the drive down Lake Shore Drive because there ain't no road just like it anywhere I've found. I thought of how I enjoyed the Thai food and the movie that was a 10 minute drive from my house, the ESPN 1000 sports radio, watching the White Sox game, and being within walking distance from the grocery store. Each place has its ups and downs, and I'm quite happy with where I live now...mainly because I don't have deranged possibly Spanish speaking motorists screaming at me down the streets of Jackson County. But, I may return to the city sometime soon. Only time will tell.


Quote of the day: "My favorite team is the White Sox. My second favorite team is who ever is playing the Cubs"
-Harry Carry (back when he was the announcer for the Sox, before his days with the Cubs)


Christopher J said...

Stephanie and I went for a walk Saturday afternoon in one of the nicer sections of Dallas and I was totally blown away by the wanton excess. Our little nook in Irving is pretty secluded and generally the nicest cars you see around are new Hondas and Toyotas -- every other car on our walk was at least a Mercedez if not a Porsche. Like you mentioned: the wealthier the neighborhood the less happy the people seem to be. I wonder if maybe, just maybe, there's a connection there...

On the other hand... Here, here to Chicago's many treasures:

* Vienna beef hotdogs
* Aurelio's Chicago style pizza
* Da Bears
* Saint Mary of the Angels
* Lake Shore Drive
* above all: WRIGLEY FIELD!!!

Harry Caray never said that about the Cubs. Its a lie!!!!!!!!!!!!

samwise gamgee said...

pay no attention to the end of that last post, readers, some crazy person must've gotten into chris' room, knocked him out, and put that about the northside beer garden

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, oh yes, the actual fact of the matter is not only did Harry really say that, but I personally know people who heard it live. He did have a good viewpoint, but who knows, this might be the year!!!

The one finger (index finger of course) wave, a tradition that would be nice to bring North.

Can anyone be better than Crede?

"Place" is not as important as "people". All places can be great.

dies irae said...

In contradiction, here in KY Toyota drivers get waves if it's a 4x4 truck that's old as Moses and the rust blends in with the camo paint scheme. If this is your truck then you're the envy of every 4-wheelin', 'baccer-spittin', whitetail slayin', shade-tree mechanic that passes by.