Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Chicago Part 2: Day 5: People, Places, Food, Home
Day five marked our return to sunny California. Our flight did not leave until the afternoon, so we still had time to explore Chicago. However like most non billionaires, we couldn’t do anything too expensive because we had spent all of our designated vacation money on things like ferris wheels and skyscrapers.
We started our day with another walk to breakfast. We went to the West Egg, which is located more east of Chicago than would warrant “West” in the name. Danny ordered a skillet with a side of pancakes. He enjoyed it, but believes the Bongo Room has better hash browns. I tried a bite of his pancakes, and thought they were heavenly. I ordered the “Blue Bayou” which is a skillet dish with bacon and blue cheese atop of eggs and tomatoes. It was pretty tasty. It’s very difficult for the words “yuck and bacon” to come out of my mouth at the same time.
The taxi cab driver started up a conversation with Danny, as most people do, without knowing what they are getting into. I sat in the back prepared to take out my emergency brake pedal and listened. The taxi cab driver was from Transylvania. I quickly deducted that he was not a vampire, because he was still alive even though Danny and I were breathing our garlicky pizza breath in his taxi. He also was not sparkling in the sunlight nor was he melting. He drove pleasantly even though there was a lot of traffic.
He told us that with the downfall of the economy driving a taxi is horrible. Most people can’t afford to take a taxi. He works part time which in taxi world is 6 days a week with 14 hour shifts. Danny and I were very impressed with Chicago’s public transportation, but he said it was nothing compared to Europe. We passed by his neighborhood in Chicago. He pointed out where he lived and said it was a historic neighborhood. Many of the houses there were used during the slave trade. Some of them still have the hooks in the basement walls where slaves were chained to. He said people aren’t allowed to remove the hooks because they are considered historic. We discussed how compared to most places in Transylvania his Chicago neighborhood is not old at all. He told us his archaeologist friend helps him indentify ancient artifacts that he finds digging in his Transylvanian backyard. He told us how he missed his homeland. He also doesn’t like Chicago winters.
He came to America for the American dream but after ten years of living here, it is still that, just a dream. I wanted to offer some encouraging words, but couldn’t find the right thing to say. He definitely had a different perspective of Chicago than we saw. I guess there is always another side to a story. Mine might be filled with ferris wheels and baseball games, but for many this is not the case. The taxi cab driver shook Danny’s hand extra long and said that he enjoyed giving us a ride and having a conversation worth remembering. I hope that telling his story to someone who actually wanted to hear it helped him out. I hope that one day he finds his American or Transylvanian dream.
We were ridiculously early at the airport so I made sure to utilize the ladies room before we left. I was again excited about the automatic toilet seat covers. I must warn you that if you fly in through O’Hare and use the toilets with the automatic seat covers, it is only setting you up for disappointment. Out of all the restrooms I used in Chicago, O’Hare was the only place that even had seat covers. I found this odd. Maybe it’s a Chicagoan thing and O’Hare just has them because airports are more neutral territory anyways.
We enjoyed Chicago immensely. Although there were many things that we did not get to see or do, we tried to pack everything in that we could. Chicago is like any big city, full of life and excitement, it also has its share of problems. It is infamous for its corrupt politicians and gangsters, but also famous for people like Michael Jordan and Oprah. It has history. It has beauty. Chicago has amazing people, places, and food. I would recommend visiting it in a heartbeat.