Winter in Chicago

January 22, 2009

I never thought I was someone that was affected by the seasons, but after attempting to survive a Chicago winter I think differently. I am still trying to figure out what is so different about winter here compared to winter in Iowa. Here are some of my observations thus far.

For starters, the sidewalks are NEVER cleared. With everyone living in apartments there is no one that takes ownership of the sidewalks. I certainly don’t think of the sidewalk outside my building as my sidewalk. The snow just seems to pile up and pile up and pile up. Then, since so many people are walking on it, it gets all packed down and once it gets super cold at night the top turns to ice. Each morning I feel like I am ice skating to the bus stop hoping not to fall in front of the million people that seem to be out.

The streets possess problems as well. Streets are lined with cars on both sides. Of course there are some streets that are considered snow routes, but many are not. When the city finally gets around to clearing residential side streets, there is no where for the snow to go except for up against all the cars. This makes parallel parking even more impossible than it already seems to be. There is little to no room for sliding and rocking. I am learning how important it is to have my mini shovel in the trunk to assist in my excavating of the car.

Dressing for the weather is also quite an experience here in Chicago. While I don’t really think it is any windier here than in Iowa, I do think the wind is more harsh. The wind starts getting trapped around all the buildings and soon crazy wind tunnels attack. The wearing of hats, scarves, and gloves in an absolute must.

What’s funny is that once I have successfully crossed the tundra to the bus, I get on and am packed in like a sardine. I regularly ride bus routes that are far too popular. What results is buses that have people in every single seat, people standing in every possible place in the aisle and a yelling bus driver telling us to move back as if the bus never ends. If the personal boundaries (or lack there of) that are allowed on buses were allowed during the rest of our day, there would be no virgins left in the city of Chicago. I can’t tell you how many crotches and butts I have touched or how many times mine have been touched. Now imagine being packed into such space with all those winter coats while still adorning our hats, scarves, and mittens. The windows are in a constant state of “fogged”. I feel like I haven’t seen Lake Michigan on at least a month. Whenever I pass it, all I can see is a window full of breath and sweat.

The only positive of it being cold is the rush I get of fresh air when I am finally pried free of the bus as I skate on home.

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