5 Things I Constantly Worry About While Walking on the Streets of Chicago

1. Being late. Always.

I don’t know what it is but this city has a way of delaying every short walk… It is absolutely exhausting.

The tiny red hand on the other side of the street has become my biggest enemy since moving here. It mocks me as I squirm in my late-ness on the wrong side of the street. No matter how fast my fast walking is, it’ll never be fast enough to beat that red devil.

I have to leave my apartment at least fifteen minutes early in order to make it to class on time. This would make sense if I still lived in Iowa and went to class across town… But I live a mere two blocks away from my classes here in Chicago!

Curse you red devil, and your mocking blink that ends just ask I come to the edge of the sidewalk.

2. Tourists

One thing that I never understood, until I moved to Chicago, was the way locals of popular destinations muttered “tourists” under their breaths with disgust in their voices. “Why is it such a problem?” I wondered as I continued tourist-ing.

I now understand the problem.

When I lived in Oslo during the summer there were several times when my tourist friends and I would look at each other and ask, “do the locals understand what they have here?”

We were amazed at the lack of locals in Oslo’s most fantastic public spaces. The answer is, of course they understand, just how I understand how amazing Millennium Park here in Chicago. I now also understand why the locals stayed away from these tourist attractions, no matter how wonderful.

Tourists are frankly annoying.

They are loud and always rushing to see something else, to take pictures and leave. Forgetting what is truly in front of them and valuing their photos too much. They seem to be there simply to record data, to say, “oh look we’ve been there!” Instead of actually being wherever they are.

A few days ago, I made my way to Millennium Park with a good book in one hand and my favorite tea in the other. I was hoping to find a quiet place to sit and enjoy the Fall scenery. Instead, I found hoards of photo-hungry tourists everywhere.

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Tourists at the ultimate Chicago tourist trap. Photo credit: Alexandra Olsen

All of the selfie sticks, bean mirror selfies, and fathers trying to adjust their families into perfect Christmas card material were anxiety inducing.

The park was no longer a park. I couldn’t hear anything but, “one more picture” and “say cheese!” There were no birds chirping, no wind blowing through the trees. This, I now understand, is why locals dislike tourists. Locals have already taken the photos and toured their city, they want to be able to appreciate the present moment.

I do not think that there is anything wrong with being a tourist. In fact, I love being one myself! But in the age of visual media, we must remember to live in the moment.

Photos are amazing souvenirs. They allow use to get a glimpse of moments that have passed. Yet, we shouldn’t be so concerned with getting a million photos when all we have is this one present moment in a new place. Besides, memories are better than pictures.

3. Deadly, phone-sized, vents

No. I will not participate in this new “phone pinching dare” trend.

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I will however participate in the “phone clutching” habit that I have formed while living in the city. Seriously, why are these vents shaped like perfect little iPhone slots?

4. The Chicago “L’s” obsession with ruining my phone calls.

The “L” is a convenient and reliable source for transportation in Chicago… Unfortunately, I am convinced that it is also always lurking and waiting to pass just as I decide to make a phone call while walking underneath it’s signature elevated tracks.

I tried to wait for the “L” the other night to get a photo for this blog post. It was taking much longer than anticipated, and so I decided to make a call to my mother after giving up. Sure enough, just as she picked up the phone the tracks began to rumble and the train sped by.

As always, sounding like the absolute end of humanity itself. I missed my chance at a photo and my chance to greet my mom with a timely and warm “hello.”

I got the message “L” train, no more phone calls on the street for me.

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Photo credit: Yam G-jun

5. Stepping in dog pee

Yes really.

Stepping in poo? Sure, everyone has dealt with this fear since childhood. But stepping in pee? this is a new development.

When dogs pee in grass, it is immediately soaked into the soil, leaving zero trace. When dogs pee on sidewalks, the pee is rejected by the cement.

It is not absorbed and the yellow liquid makes its way down whichever way the sidewalk is tilted. This makes the entire length of the sidewalk a disaster waiting to happen.

I have thankfully avoided this disaster up until now… But it is only a matter of time.

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