Assimilating

Vicky graduated from college last Friday night in St. Louis. Since we had family meeting us there, we decided to drive down Thursday night so we could have some time with them. The catch was, Eric wanted me to pick him up at work so we could leave from there, allowing us to get an earlier start and beat some of the traffic. It made sense, but I had a bad feeling about it.

Everything was great on the drive to pick him up, on the trip downstate, throughout the whole weekend. Even the drive back was fine. Then came this morning. Eric’s car was still at the office. I had to get up to take him to work.

He drove there, allowing me time to caffeinate, but I should have topped my cup up once more before we left. Traffic was really light outside his office and I thought I was home free. About fifteen minutes into my drive, I realized I’d missed a turn, and I had no idea where I was.

No big deal. I got out my cell phone and told it to navigate home. It told me to turn right in half a mile. Cool! I was in the right lane. Easy peasy. After I turned right, it told me in half a mile to take the exit onto I-290 East. Not so good. In my opinion, I-anything is a bad thing at 8 a.m. on a weekday. Still, I did what it said and merged onto the parking lot. It wanted me to go seven miles and change highways. Do you know how long seven miles takes in Chicago rush hour traffic? Half an hour. If you’re lucky. Rule of thumb is five minutes/mile. I figured I was looking at an hour to get home, but I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know what exit I would be on after I merged to the highway that would take me home. Asking my iPhone to find an alternate route did no good at all. Apple maps only goes one way.

Then I saw it: Western Ave 1 mile. *cue singing angels*

Suddenly, in the middle of no man’s land traffic, I knew more or less where I was. It still took another fifteen minutes to get home, but I got home stress-free (and hungry). The moral of the story is, at least in Chicago, pay attention to the names of the streets near you. If you’re lost and see one that looks familiar, chances are decent you’ll be able to find your way. The caveat is that even though a street might stretch from one end of the city to the other, there may be interruptions. Sometimes there’s a park in the middle of the street and you have to circumnavigate, and Chicago has its fair share of one-way streets, but if you get going the right way, it’s pretty easy to get around. Just make sure you are going the right way.

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