#520: Morning Shift

August 24th, 2015

It’s going to be hot later, for a bit. A few hours’ furnace will heat-blast the town before melting into a blissfully perfect night.

But the Sunday morning fog was cool and sharp as the first tourists trickled from hotel to street along Michigan Avenue.

It’s going to be crowded later, for a while. The few to make their way from hotel breakfasts at the ungodly vacation hour of 10 a.m. would be joined in their wander by scores of their compatriots.

Selfies on the Michigan Avenue Bridge. Bits of laughter as they reach to touch the bits of the Pyramids, the Great Wall, Taj Mahal and Monticello ripped from buildings around the world to dapple the side of Trib Tower. A few canoeists slide through the river below, the water still a peaceful, enticing calm.

Trickling too into the streets are the people there to serve the tourists. Sleepy, smiling, sometimes resentful of having pulled a Sunday shift, they emerge from buses, subways, pull up on bikes amid the fog.

Some slurp from paper coffee cups. Some already wear their work uniforms, some bumble up in white undershirts to stay human for each precious moment before they don the official garb and spend their Sunday just as roles.

Arsenio’s a rapper.

He’s a deckhand too, of course, wearing a safety orange polo to tie cleats and handle lines for the people who want to spend a bit of holiday cruising up and down the river learning about buildings. But Arsenio’s is doesn’t match his does. He works as a deckhand. That’s what he does. A rapper is what he is.

He and some friends started a production studio providing complete online packaging for struggling artists. He mixes the audio, the others handle the visual art direction. Photos. Design. Social media management. A lot of struggling rappers have the skills but not the image or presentation, he said. They have the lyrics but not the showmanship, he said.

He and his friends show rappers how to be cool.

Andi’s a director.

She spent and spends years in the theater, can name off places she’s worked that even the casual attendee of plays will know.

Too much time inside, she says. Too many days huddled in rehearsals, too many late nights patching plot holes and rehashing the proper emotional impact of an offhanded comment.

She likes her job calling in tourists from the street, beckoning the passersby to spend an hour and quarter on a boat learning buildings. It gets her outside, she said.

Paul’s a writer. You know his story.

Things are going to change that day. The fog will lift, the chill will vanish, the heat will blast, the tourists will flock and the nighttime air will come in with a sweetness that lifts the day from adequate to magnificent.

But the day hasn’t begun, really.

The fog is still erasing the skyscrapers’ heads. The tourists are still chipper, the workers’ mouths still taste of coffee and toothpaste. The river is still so calm the canoeists seem like they have a good idea.

It’s a Sunday morning, and the day is about to start.

Read more stories from the Loop

The office workers start their day

A dance troupe practices downtown

Tourists hunt fossils in the walls

The tree-mice return in spring

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