Friday, December 15, 2006

Call Me A Cab. . .Okay, You're A Cab

by Sean Chercover

Tonight found me at a Christmas party at the Abbey Pub, where the Sons Of The Never Wrong played to a packed house (examples of their work, on YouTube here and here).

It was a great show, and a great time spent with new friends. . .

Around 11:30, I step out onto Elston Avenue. Traffic is bordering on sparse, but it’s unseasonably warm in Chicago, so I walk toward Addison, figuring to hail a passing cab along the way.

A half-dozen cabs pass, and I wave at them, but they don’t stop. Two of them slow down to take a good look at me, almost stop, but suddenly switch off their ‘on duty’ roof lights, and speed away.

Curious. I’ve had a total of one (1) pint of Guinness at the pub, so I’m not giving off the don’t pick up this drunk guy vibe. I’m wearing clean jeans, a decent sweater and a relatively new leather jacket, so I’m not giving off the this guy can’t afford a cab vibe. My hair is short, my face freshly shaved and I know how to hail a cab without seeming like a psycho. I really don’t look that scary. And it’s not a dangerous neighborhood.

A few blocks south, and I’m on Addison. Now we’ve got a pretty good flow of cars. Including taxis with their duty lights on. But do they stop for me? Hell, no. More cabs slow down as they approach, but each of them decides that I’m not a good bet, and they all speed away. Some of them tease me by almost stopping and switching off their roof lights before hitting the gas and taking off.

The Sons Of The Never Wrong are a folk band. They’re all about peace and love. So I put myself in a peaceful frame of mind, and I send love to all the cab drivers that come my way. They still don’t stop, but I keep sending them love anyway. It's not about what you get back; it's about what you give. That's what the hippies say.

I resume walking. It’s a nice night for a walk, and I can use the time to soak-in my surroundings, taking note of the small details that may find their way into the next book, or the next short story.

And I’m glad for the opportunity to reconnect with Chicago as a walking town. You think ‘walking town’ and you think New York, naturally. New York is the ultimate walking town. But Chicago is also a great walking town, if you’re willing to walk longer distances.

I get to Wrigley Field, where there are drunk frat boys spilling out of sports bars everywhere you look, and now plenty of cabs are willing to pick me up. But now I'm grooving on the walk, so I decline the ride.

I don’t really know what the hell this post is about. It’s very late, and I walked all the way home - and thouroughly enjoyed the walk - taking note of many details along the way. Details that would’ve been lost, had I been speeding along in a cab, or walking thorough the hustle and noise of the day.

This nocturnal city walking ritual is easily forgotten during the cold winter months. But this, for me, is also an important part of the writing process.


Marcus Sakey said...

Nothing like walking in Chicago. But it's easy to forget to do--you just get in a habit.

Hell, as a writer working from home, I get in the habit of not leaving the house. I wandered outside yesterday, realized I hadn't been in open air since Monday. Not a good thing.

I bathe and all. I just forget to go out sometimes.

Michael Dymmoch said...

You can also pick up a lot of city detail from the bus.

And they have to stop for everyone.

ab said...

Walks are nice, at all times.
But I am curious: Why wouldn't the cabs pick you up?

Barbara D'Amato said...

Walking in Chicago is my favorite form of exercise. Chicago's never boring. Mystery writer Dorothy Salisbury Davis used to say she "walked" all her books when she was in New York. Agatha Christie was famed for her long walks. Hmmmm.

But like ab, I am curious. Why wouldn't the cabs pick you up?

Sean Chercover said...

Barbara and ab: I don't know; none of them stopped to explain why they wouldn't pick me up.

Nienke said...

Yet, be careful when you walk (a la Stephen King). I love when life works out like this.
Especially nice you didn't focus on the why - reveals character.
Happy holidays!

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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