I drove down town to deliver an OperaGram.com® in Person and parked on Orleans south of Chicago. I was miffed that the ParkChicago app required a 30-minute minimum purchase. WHAT?!? When did this start?
So I used my credit card at the kiosk and purchased 15 minutes, waited for the printout, and put it on my dashboard. I paid $1 for 15 minutes using the kiosk vs. a $2 (+ $.35 convenience fee for stays under 2 hours) using the app. Pre-privatization, I would have dropped a quarter in the meter and the revenues would have gone to the City of Chicago – end of story.
I delivered the telegram. Then, when exiting the building, I noticed police were walking around on walkie talkies in the intersection. Since I was wearing sunglasses, a blond-braided wig, a Viking helmet, and holding a plastic spear, I’m sure I didn’t look at all suspicious, so, I walked to my car.
I opened the hatch and took off my gear. Just as I was about to get into the driver’s seat, a policewoman got into her car, backed it up, and blocked eastbound Chicago Avenue traffic in an snap! Holy cow! I’ve never seen a traffic cop move so fast!
I noticed southbound Orleans traffic had been blocked off a couple of blocks north from where I stood. No one stopped me, so I got behind the wheel and started my car when, just then, a cavalcade drove by. Again, no one stopped me, so I started my trip home.
I got on to the I-90/94 Ontario ramp in a heartbeat. The driver’s side backseat darkened window of the car in front of me opened mid-ramp. “Oh my G-d! Is someone going to shoot me?” thought I. But, no, the person just wanted to say a howdy-do to a construction worker. It is Chicago, after all: the city where darkened windows are illegal but no one seems to get called on it, road construction is year-round, and doing a stop-and-chat in the middle of an interstate on-ramp is just how we are in the Midwest.
Merging on to I-90/94 was a breeze! Traffic was barricaded about half a mile north of the entrance. One of the police cars pulled over to the shoulder and waved me past him. The cavalcade continued to fly south. I got on I-290 in about one-eighth of the normal time it would have taken from the start of my trip. If only the cavalcade had used I-290!
Alas, it was not meant to be. I, like every other average Chicagoan, had to keep my foot hovering over the brake on the long rush-hour ride home. By the way: Who is rushing and how does it take just an hour?
It turns out, according to the Washington Times, The First Lady, Michelle Obama, had been in town doing some fundraising and GOTV-ing. I taught a group voice class, a diction class, two private voice lessons, had to handle a delicate mom matter, and deliver a singing telegram for less than 1% of the money she was able to raise in one day. I guess that makes me one of the 1%!
Well, that was my brush with fame. Just part of a normal 12-hour work day!