Yoknapatawpha Crossing

This Is Chicago

with 2 comments

The big news in my life is that I just moved to Chicago. This is how I knew I was there:

The Man on the El

I was riding home on the el with my friends, when a man tapped me on the shoulder, and this is what he said:

“Hey, man, wassure shirt say? I would… kill everyone in this… room… for a drop… of sweat beer… Hom… Homer… J… Simpson… Yeah, man, thaz what I’m talkin bout. Thazza fine shirt. You okay.”

Our new friend sat down right next to us. He wore a small goatee, a beat up sweater, and bloodshot eyes. As it turned out, he had a lot of things to say, and he said them many times. What follows is a selection of the parts that I feel are most relevant, and that I could also understand:

Race Relations

“White power, baby. Fuck those niggas, what the hell, what the hell they doing. I’m not wanting to offend anybody, you know, but for real, white power. High five, man.”

The man was black himself, and we were glad that the other people on the train were all wearing headphones.

Like the mantra of a devoted swami, he chanted along to the station announcements at every stop.

“This is Clark. Diversy is next. Doors open an the right at Diversy.”

“Standin passengers, please don lean gainst the doors.”

Except he usually missed that one.


“Y’all know George W. Bush? I luuuv him. I’m not tryin t’ offend y’all or anythin, but if I was a woman, I would have his babies. George W. Bush, Bush Sr, Dick Cheney, all them, I want to get down and dirty with em. If I was a woman I would fuck George W. Bush all night long, know what I’m sayin? I’m not tryin ta offend, that’s just the way I feel. They could do me in the ass, man. Course I’m jus sayin all this, I’ma married man.”

“Doors open on the left at Division.”


He noticed that a couple of people in the group were girls.

“Man, women are the best, y’all know what I’m sayin? You gonna take me there, girl? Take me there!” snap snap

His fingers were more than a bit crusty, but for all that he could snap them very loudly, and he did, many times. The sound was made louder by his fingers’ proximity to our faces.

“Take me there, girl! You gonna take me there?” snap snap

The girl he was talking to: “I don’t know where we’re going!”

“You don need to know; you jus gotta get there.” snap snap

He was going somewhere. None of us knew where, and we didn’t stay to find out.

My train has just begun a five-year layover, and I for one can’t believe it spent so long tooling around the south. Chicago is the best place ever.

“Standin passenger, please don lean gainst the doors.”

Special Thoughtful Note

That all really happened. I didn’t have to make up any of it. I’m sorry if it offended you. I thought it was hilarious.


Written by Daniel Grady

September 12, 2006 at 19:04

Posted in True Stories

2 Responses

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  1. This is definitely better than any of my El stories, which are numerous. At a point when you’re comfortable with the same buildings that fly by (or crawl, or stand, as you pointed out) the people in the train become much more interesting.

    Mig Zug

    October 6, 2006 at 11:00

  2. Daniel,
    I am impressed by the way you can recite almost our entire encounter with this guy. I think this was a good experience for my first time in Chicago. …definitely memorable! I hope you are enjoying the COLD weather (I am not) and that school isn’t *too* hard.



    December 10, 2006 at 19:54

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