Sometimes Life Decisions Are Best Made With Strangers At Bus Stops

June 24, 2013 § 6 Comments

I’m standing at the corner of E. Randolph and Michigan Ave. in a part of Chicago known as the loop. I’m waiting for the bus. It’s January. If you’ve ever stood on a Chicago corner in the dead of Winter waiting for public transportation and decided to make a bold scream-cry declaration to absolutely no one in particular that, “YOU ARE MOVING TO CALIFORNIA BECAUSE YOU AREN’T ABOUT TO DIE OUT HERE AND BECAUSE YOU HAVE SOME FUCKING SENSE OF SELF PRESERVATION!” then you may have an idea of what I’m talking about.  Or if you’ve ever woken up in a bathtub full of ice missing your kidneys then you might also have an idea.

This particular Chicago day was the coldest they had had in a decade. It was -9 before factoring in the wind chill and with the wind chill it was -33. Which is fucking cold, people. It’s real fucking cold.

Seconds before I found myself on that corner I had burst through the turnstile doors and ran for my mother-lovin’ life to catch the bus and I’d reached the stop just in time to miss it. The busses came in 15-minute intervals. Another 15-minutes, I thought to myself. Oh.God.No. I stumbled back into the corner of the bus stop overhang and huddled down, moving slowly to conserve heat.

15 minutes isn’t long if you are waiting at the bar for a late dinner guest or if you are paying for an awkward public massage at one of those mall kiosks but when you are freezing your fucking ass off 15 minutes is a lifetime.  And the longer I waited the more the unapologetic wind that whipped off the lake to bitch slap me in the face felt less like the elements and more like a metaphor for my life.

A gentlemen sauntered up to the bus stop. He offered me a reassuring look of encouragement as if to say, ‘Don’t worry. It’ll all be ok…maybe.’ It was a welcome distraction. I returned his gesture with a nonchalant nod meaning, ‘Crazy weather we’re having but what can you do? Also, are we going to die out here sir?’ Only a few minutes had passed and I was already about to break.

Next a woman wearing a jacket made completely of luxurious dead animal fur joined us. Now I know killing animals for the sake of fashion is something that should be avoided but as I stared at this woman I noticed she looked slightly less cold than the rest of us. And I have to admit if a beautiful rare silver fox had suddenly appeared before me I might have slaughtered it for the sole purpose of warming my hands inside its dying carcass.

Somewhere in between my daydreams about murdering innocent woodland creatures and the bus arriving is where I made my scream-cry declaration to move back to California. Under normal circumstances my two fellow commuters would have most likely laughed politely and shifted away from the small psychopath who makes life decisions by yelling them to strangers but we had just endured the same cruel 15-minute fate which means we had bonded in a way that would typically have taken several months of forced awkward small talk. So my new friends were oddly reassuring and made an effort to make me feel as if I had correctly panicked.

And then the bus pulled up and just like that we were saved. Once aboard, it was clear I wasn’t going to die but it was also clear that I would be moving back back to Cali Cali.

Beautiful Cold Chicago. I Love You But You’re A Cold Hearted Bitch:

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Chicago Snow Storm 2011

Frozen Lake Michigan

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Chicago Winter

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§ 6 Responses to Sometimes Life Decisions Are Best Made With Strangers At Bus Stops

  • elb743 says:

    Jamie, you are a gifted writer and I look forward to your posts. This one had me in stitches, and also worrying that son wants to go to Northwestern to pursue his doctoral studies… eek..
    XX, Elle
    http://mydailycostume.com/

    • Jamie says:

      Thanks Elle! Chicago is a great city. I loved my experience there. If your son can stand the cold I’m sure he’ll love it as well :) Thanks so much for reading!

      xo,
      Jamie

  • Peet says:

    This is crazy! I live in a windy city too (up to 185 miles per hour and I’m not exaggerating or kidding:)) so I feel you. And I can’t wait to move too!:) As for you slaughtering that hypothetical fox, I have another suggestion – people (shepherds) used to stick their hands and feet in cow poop to keep them warm so maybe you could wait for it to poop so you wouldn’t have to kill it.:D

  • Ned's Blog says:

    I put on an extra blanket while reading this. Oh, and your silver fox observation… Still laughing at that image. Stay warm ;)

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