I know I have written about this before, but I just want to say why I definitely am a city girl at heart… When I moved to Chicago four years ago for college, in many ways I felt at home for the first time in my life. My love for Chicago – and for cities in general – is sometimes really hard to explain to other people who do not share this passion. The main complaints I hear about the city is that it’s disorienting, noisy, crowded, stressful, and confusing. I could see how this could be true for someone who wasn’t used to the environment, but at the same time I would have to respectfully disagree!
Since moving to Chicago I have had three different apartments. The first was a tiny one bedroom in Lincoln Park, the second was an even tinier apartment in the Gold Coast, and the third (which I moved into after I returned from Rome) is a pretty decently sized single family home in Lincoln Park. Despite my long list of complaints about my current residence – too far from public transit, my tiny bedroom (it literally is a bed-room… no other furniture fits in it!), finicky plumbing, ancient appliances, and I am pretty sure the place isn’t actually insulated – I have very fond feelings towards the house itself. Which leads me to my next point: living in the city requires tolerance.
If you are going to live in close confines with other people it requires a lot of tolerance and compromise. I think about this a lot, especially on public transportation. Since I have not had a car while in college, I have spent quite a bit of time in close proximity with individuals that I sometimes have difficulties believing that they grew up on the same planet as me. Although I am less easily shocked than my 18-year-old self, I still am sometimes surprised at the length people go to be rude.
· While most people you encounter on public transportation are normal, polite citizens just trying to get along with their lives, once in a while (once a week) you encounter a terrible bus driver, who by slamming on the brakes constantly is probably giving everyone whip lash. Or the individuals who play music on their cell phones, except instead of using headphones like everyone else, they play their music out loud for everyone else to “enjoy.” There is also always someone who is screaming about their personal business into their cell phones; or a neglectful mother who is making everyone else nearby nervous about a child’s safety; people who unashamedly throw trash on the ground or cut in line. There are also those male individuals who terrify women by aggressively yelling, getting too close, or asking inappropriate questions. And I will never be able to understand the young couples (usually under the age of 18) who insist on embarrassing displays of public displays of affection. Yes, you are in love, we get it. Can you please take your hand out of her shirt now?
· 99% of employees at major grocery stores and convenience stores (especially CVS and Walgreens) are at best, completely indifferent and at worst, incompetent, passive aggressive and rude! This is just not the case out in the country or the suburbs. Customer service at these places is pretty much non-existent because they know you have pretty much no other option but to shop there. I have received such bad service in both CVS and Walgreens that on several occasions I have just put down my items and walked right out of the store. And do you think anyone cares? NO. The self-checkout lanes are by far the most popular, because even though it means more work for the customer, at least they don’t have to have an unpleasant encounter with an employee.
· This happens almost everywhere, but it’s much less likely to happen in places that are independently owned and can’t afford to lose customers. One of the things I love about the city is that there are other options (although they are probably further away and more expensive). But most of the time, it’s worth the money to support small local businesses.
· There are also A LOT of bad drivers. People who are either oblivious to their surroundings or too aggressive. I usually try to give them the evil eye, and then hurry up so they don’t purposefully hit me with their car.
Despite all of this, I still love the city! Some days are better than others, but I know that there is no other place that I feel more at home. Having lot of people around also allows for the possibility of meeting wonderful new people and makes me feel like I am part of something bigger than my own life. My only wish is that people would try to hold themselves to a higher standard. The world would be so much nicer if people were a little less indifferent and a little more tolerant and pleasant towards each other.