Prologue: Character Study
“The neighborhoods here, they’re very reasonable. It’s not expensive,” my taxi driver explains. “I mean, don’t get me wrong. There are areas where it’s getting so expensive. But those are the areas where, like, people are going around, saying how cool it is. Those people with the, like, Van Dyke mustaches and like going to restaurants where they sit on milk crakes and eat their food off of, like, a freakin’ shovel…”
His energy is making a 5:30 a.m. taxi drive a little less foggy. I listen to him talk about Chicago and his family and his life (in school for Linux Systems administration, wife with two lovely kids, dreams of troubleshooting remotely while living in the Bahamas) and I try to pinpoint his elusive accent. His accent is vaguely Eastern European, and the way he structures his sentences supports that – but the occasional aqui and eso makes me doubt my initial observation.
“No, it’s so good to travel. It’s so good. My wife and I, we just spent some time in California, in Nevada…have you ever been to Zion National Park? Oh my God, it is so beautiful. And we spend all day driving around, and we find this inn, this, like, Summer Ranch Inn or something. And this place is, like, spooky. No one is around and there’s this old rocking horse in the yard and like I’m going, ‘someone is going to smack me in the face with a shovel or something here…’”
After spending the last 4 days traveling by public transit and by foot, it’s nice to just sit back and be delivered straight to the terminal for my flight back home. It’s been a whirlwind of a trip, and the constant go-go-go is catching up on me.
O’Hare comes into a view after a string of tall, glassy hotels – hotels that, as my driver explains, were built that way because of all the regulations on reusing things like beams and stones and bricks. I’ll be back home in a few hours – crossing over timezones, losing the time I gained getting here.
Back to reality.
My taxi driver continues to be jovial as he pulls up to the United entranceway. He reminds me to make sure I have all the things, that it’s important not to forget anything, and he wishes me a safe trip. I wish him the best of luck with everything and go off to check in.