#925: A Walk in the Rain

May 9th, 2018

I want to write about four men of Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian or some other ethnicity that meant their words sounded like Klingon head colds.

They hid from the rain under the small alcove created by the locked glass doors of the laundromat that went away more than a year ago. Despite the building owners’ window-posted plans of a luxury bar/restaurant deal filling the space, new suitors never courted the corner lot once the poor people clothes washery was ousted.

Now it’s a glass-walled corner lot, vacant but for the Halloween costume shop that stops by in September. It not being September, the lot’s only purpose is to provide a small alcove for orange-hoodied construction workers to hide from the rain.

I want to write about the homeless guy camped on the corner by one of the two 7-Elevens flanking my office. It’s the one where I once saw a roach crawl in the coffee machine. The homeless guy outside of it, I’ve seen more than once. He’s the one with the smart eyes, the just-off but still coherent eyes. The hungry eyes.

I had no change, walking up checking pockets and making sure to make eye contact and address the man directly because that’s what wussy liberals like me do. We don’t fix the problem, just telegraph that we’re the good ones. But I figure the guy gets treated like a guy for a second, so that’s all good too.

He asks me to buy him something. Feeling rich and bored, I say sure and end up paying Chicago rates to buy a bum a pack of smokes. I get it. Tobacco is an appetite suppressant.

I want to write about the pretty lady I saw on the train, or the prettier man who looked like he spent more time on his clothing. I want to write about the rain drying on my suit lapel or the humid wind gust that feels hot and cold at the same moment. I want to write about the globular white fella I saw the day before sitting on the outside seat of a crowded car so no one could sit near him. He put a FedEx document envelope in the window seat as women stood around. I’m like 80 percent sure the blobby man with legs spread into the aisle was a right-wing political operative I used to know during suburban days.

I want to write about all these people, but there’s no point or purpose. There’s nothing but a recitation of images, sounds and smells — scene-setting for a scene that never unfolds.

The homeless man just said thanks for the Newport 100s. The construction workers hiding from the rain only spoke words I couldn’t gather. I didn’t ask the seat-lump if he was Hastert’s old flack and, if so, what he’d been up to since that whole… thing.

I want to write about the things that mean so much to me, but know they mean nothing to you.

Sure, you might like a turn of phrase, and if Camp or Casino read this they might guess which flack I’m talking about. But it twinges that I’ll never get across what the sound of Polish, Klingon or Ukrainian sounds like from an alcove. You’ll never know why I bought the smokes or what “pretty girl” looks like to me.

You’re walking through your Chicago today, and your Chicago isn’t big conversations about the meaning of existence, or stunning revelations of whatever news means to you. It’s sights, sounds, meaningless recitations. It’s your homeless person, your train companions, your construction workers in their language.

I hope you see how beautiful it is. I hope you see only the boring get bored. And I hope your own walk among the walking crowds breaks and lifts your heart each day, and that you find someone to tell.

Three true things

Treating guys like guys

“Haircut journalism”

The sound of rain on concrete

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You are currently reading #925: A Walk in the Rain by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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