Wednesday, 18 April 2007



Passengers on the plane are downright unfriendly. There were two Lebanese guys waiting to go to D.C. in the waiting room and no one wanted to sit next to each other at all. The two guys were just regular folk relaxing. And ignored the hostile stares they were getting from most everyone else.

There was a male house sparrow flying around the waiting area. He seemed rather familiar with everything; hopped around as if he owned the place, checking out familiar spots. A chair here, a spot of floor there. He landed on the teevee set showing the weather briefly. When I whistled at him though, he split which reminded me once again something about being a nation of strangers.

The airplane was worse. It was a prop job-- a puddle-jumper of the skies-- held together by high-tech duct tape. The aisles were so narrow that only an anorexic could go through them without twisting sideways. An hour and a half later and I was in Chicago.

With no clue of how to get out of there. The guy behind the desk grunted at me and pointed to the left. "And then what?" I asked. "Jest keep going straight," he said. The hallway branched out into a tee.

I found the travelers' aid lady to be better equipped at giving directions and she told me how to take the subway to the train station. I got on the blue subway which gave me a bit of the tour of the city. The people in the car mostly seemed to be locals. Chicago is full of buildings and Cubs fans.

I got off and went upstairs, walked the two blocks (past more buildings) to Union Station. There were a coupla old men sleeping on the steps in the sunlight. It was that sort of day. They were homeless so maybe they didn't feel the same way about it as I did. I was a tourist, a brief intrusion upon their lives and nothing more.

The "Grand" part of Grand Union Station truly is grand. Large pews like I remember at Penn Station in Newark New Jersey and people lounging up them in the sunlight. I took a picture of a young woman reading a Steven King novel as her baby slept on her lap.

The waiting area for the Amtrak was a motley assortment and I enjoyed it. After a quiet lunch in a sports bar/cafeteria, the noise was soothing. People were friendly and talked to each other, even strangers. Everyone was happy to be going somewheres and so was I. Finally I started getting excited too.

Illinois equals Chicago plus cornfields. Even the dirt is sort of loomy yellow. Folks on the train were all locals and settled in to talk to whoever they were sitting next to. Some guy with a guitar said he plays with a band called "Hello Dave." The old lady sitting next to me she told me her life story who had hung himself and who was a good daughter-in-law and a bad daughter and her prize roses and dancing three times a week and everything.

Three hours later I was much relieved to say goodbye to her as I got off the train to meet my friend Sandy and her son Rich. (to be continued)

spike q

p.s. Sandi B, if you want a postcard, please send me your address again.

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