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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chicago Part III: A Train Ride to the Gold Coast

No, not to Australia.  Something better.

It all started at 7:00am CST, when Spicy Food Guy's cell phone rang in his hotel room.

"Good Morning!" chirped Fabulous Administrative Assistant of Spicy Food Guy (FAASFG), "Your flight back to Pittsburgh is cancelled.  Almost all flights are cancelled.  I re-booked you on the one remaining American Eagle flight that departs O'Hare at 1:15!"

"Urgh", replied SFG, who not only had been fast asleep, but had a rather extended evening the night before involving an Irish pub and Portillo's hot dogs.

"Wake up, sleepyhead!" chirped FAASFG, "Call me if you can't get home!"

FAASFG is a peach.  Really.

So SFG lumbered over to the hotel window and pushed back the curtains.  It was snowing, in technical meteorological terms, to beat the band.  Time to get the hell out of Chicago.

SFG cleaned himself up and went down to the lobby to join forces with Fun and Favorite Colleagues of Spicy Food Guy (FFCSFG).

"The hotel staff is recommending we take the train to O'Hare because the roads are so bad," said one FFCSFG helpfully, "and the train station is only a block and a half away!"

So off SFG and FFCSFG  tromped in the heavy snowfall to find the entrance to the train station.  SFG found an entrance, but only for train pass holders.  A very helpful sign instructed that the "main entrance is one and a half blocks east".

Beg pardon?

There, standing in the heavy snowfall, SFG and FFCSFG discovered to our chagrin that not one of us had brought a compass to our business trip there in downtown Chicago.  Imagine.

So while SFG and FFCSFG stood there blinking in the snow, looking up at the skyscrapers to see if any of them had a big sign saying "East: that way" with a big arrow pointing the way east, fate intervened in the person of Loud Homeless Guy with Toilet Paper in His Pocket (LHGTPIHP).  "YOU GUYS LOOKING FOR THE ENTRANCE TO THE TRAIN STATION?" semi-shrieked LHGTPIHP.  "FOLLOW ME I KNOW THE WAY!"

And he did.  So for the low low price of a couple of bucks, SFG and FFCSFG got a personal escort to the train station.

So after saying good-bye to LHGTPIPH, taking a men's room smelling elevator down three levels, and making only a couple of wrong turns, SFG and FFCSFG finally plopped themselves in some seats on a train headed to O'Hare.  Adventure over.


Twelve short minutes into the ride, deep underground, the train stops.  Complete stop.  No power.  A sound like a car engine failing to turn over rings through the train about three times.

"I've lived in Chicago for 10 years," offered one passenger, "and this has never happened." 

Of course not.

Several minutes go by.  Then over the loudspeakers:

"Attention passengers, we have an advanced problem with the train."


SFG thought the word advanced a quite interesting choice of adjectives.  "Actually", announced SFG to his fellow passengers, "I think there is a quite basic problem with the train."

This got no laughs.

So everyone sat in silence for a few minutes.  Then a new development: in the car ahead of us, and then in our car, someone starts pounding on the train doors.  From the outside.

"What do you think that is?" asked one passenger a little fearfully, breaking the silence in the train.

"This is the part," chimed in a cheerful SFG, "when the vampires attack!"

This actually got a lot of laughs.

Finally, about five minutes later, the train starts up again.  Then this announcement:

"Ladies and gentlemen, do not stand near the doors.  The train is going 50 miles per hour.  If you stand near the doors, you will fall out and die."


This was about the time SFG started really, really hoping that his flight home would not be cancelled.

Finally, SFG and FFCSFG arrived at O'Hare.  After finding the terminal, doing the security dance, and finding out the flight home was only delayed a couple of hours, it was time to eat.

Gold Coast Hot Dogs, baby.  That's what the occasion called for.  Another world famous chili cheese dog, the second one in as many days.  And it was delicious -- steamy poppyseed bun, snappy hot dog casing, great chili and high calorie mega-transfat melted cheese. 

SFG loved it, and now there are two hot dog places in Chicago that SFG loves.  SFG looks forward to consuming a few more.

Maybe this summer.


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