Weekday Weekends

Chicago, IL. August 2009.
Chicago, IL. August 2009.

The phone rings beside my bed and jars me into a state of fuzzy semi-consciousness. Up way too late last night (this morning) sorting cameras, socks, film and batteries; then up again way too early and trying to think of what I am forgetting. Daughter number four is already up and babysitting today. She has already made us breakfast, which is something I had not even considered yet. When breakfast is finished, the daughter naps on the couch while her tiny customer naps in the chair an arm’s length away.

I drive to the airport parking lot where a plump bus driver struggles to get in and out of his seat each time someone boards the bus. Other (more physically fit) people usually just sit there instead. He’s not lazy but he does like to eat. When we stop at a traffic light on the way to the terminal, a man runs up to the shuttle bus and the driver hands him a folded twenty dollar bill.

Inside the airport the lines are long but I have time to spare. The load is light on this flight and the seats next to me are empty. Once again I marvel at the wonder of leaving the ground as I always do each time I fly on an airplane. It’s a short flight with no time for a nap and soon we will be landing in another city. Scattered clouds float above green patches that resemble an old quilt from my childhood. Now the engines throttle down and the patches of green turn into suburbs with rows of homes, warehouses and shopping centers.

A simple lunch of soup and bread at the airport finally brings me into sync with the rest of the world. The soup is warm but not hot which always makes me a little disappointed. I guess I would rather be burned once in a while rather than suffer anything lukewarm. After lunch I ride the train downtown and listen to my iPod. I debate which stop to choose and eventually arrive in the financial district to chase the afternoon light to whatever subject it chooses. Find the light and the subjects will wander along.

My biggest problem today was with people who refused to wander along and would sit in one place ruining a perfect composition. That is not to say that I did not want any people in the photos but that there were people standing or sitting exactly where I wanted to take the photos from. After a long afternoon and evening Debbie called and said to meet her at the train station because we are now going to stay at the Hyatt Hotel instead of her and her room mate’s crash pad. Now as crash pads go, theirs is pretty nice with only four people. A crash pad is basically an apartment that is shared by a group of airline employees (as many as twelve people in a two bedroom apartment) who need a cheap place to stay when they forced to work away from home in order to keep their jobs, seniority and pensions.  This particular crash pad had been so thoroughly trashed (or crashed) by the previous tenants, that the landlord (Jerry) had to gut the bathroom and re-carpet the whole place. It’s nice (and mostly quiet) now but so are the King sized beds and flat screen TVs at the Hyatt, plus it’s hard to say no to a complimentary room when one is offered. In fact, it would be really rude not to accept. So we went to the Hyatt, which is massive and there were the usual clusters of loud people attending conferences at the hotel who were doing their best to pass the time by getting good and drunk before they had to get up and go to another meeting in the morning. We ate in the bar because the restaurant was closed by that time.

We had an odd room in the back corner of the hotel that was off of a circular hallway that reminded me of a set from the Star Trek Television series. The room was sort of pie-shaped and the bathroom had a shower rather than a tub. The room was nice and fairly large (and free) so I had no complaints other than it always take me a while to wind down and quit trying to find something worth watching on the big TV. We had cranked up the air conditioner before we went to dinner but it had some sort of energy saving thermostat that turned itself off before finishing the job. So we turned it on again and eventually the room cooled off and I went to sleep. There was no phone ringing in my ear in the morning so I slept until I was ready to wake up on my own.

We got out of bed, got dressed and walked over to the Intercontinental Hotel and had the expensive breakfast buffet. I was hot from walking and that was made worse by eating way too much food but you have to get your money’s worth out of that buffet.  Breakfast is served in a nice room though there are no windows and no view other than the room itself. Next to the dining area there is a library with lots of art and photography books to look at. We talked of going back downtown or to the baseball stadium but there were plenty of chores to do at home so we headed for the airport instead.

On the way to the airport we were the only passengers on the shuttle and the driver began to give us his life story and medical history. Then he happened to mention his occasional uncontrollable rage. He seemed pretty happy at the moment so we prayed to ourselves that no one cut him off or that we got stuck in traffic on the way. We arrived safely at the terminal but he was only up to chapter three of his psychiatric prison hospital memoirs and still going strong. He didn’t open the door to the bus right away and kept on talking as I gingerly stood up and moved in that direction. When we finally got off the bus I was afraid our new friend might follow us into the terminal.

At the airport there are more funny people in front of us in the security line. There was a party girl in a black evening dress (sales rep) with about a hundred cords and adaptors hanging out of her open bag. Zip it honey! Of course she gets pulled aside for a bag check, because she has a thousand bottles of beauty products in her other bag which is bursting under the load. Her exasperated look of frustration is priceless as the TSA agent pulls out one banned substance after another, all of which will have to be discarded or returned to the ticket counter to be put into checked baggage. Either way she is not making her flight. In contrast, we make the flight ahead of the one we intended to be on and will be back in St. Louis by 1 pm with plenty of time to do some laundry and to take a little nap so I can continue with my Brownie Hawkeye Flash, night photography after it gets dark.

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