Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Windy City

Man, is it ever good to be home... or at least my parents' home. I got back from my Chicago business trip yesterday late afternoon, but headed down to my parents' place instead of going home, so I haven't made it home home quite yet. Really, though, I'm quite glad to be back. Chicago is a city that seems to have it out for me. We try to get along, but really Chicago is just kind of a dick to me most of the time and I'm to the point where it's no longer cute but annoying and frustrating.

Chicago is the city I most travel to for business since the division of the accounting firm I work for is based in Chicago, so I try to make the most of my time there, but the city has done everything in its power to make me hate the place. As of this week, it has succeeded. The city is now firmly entrenched on my list of crappy ass places in the US that I don't want to go to unless I absolutely have to.

This week it all started as I was trying to get there. From Minneapolis it would take me around 6-ish hours to drive to Chicago, but an average flight is an hour fifteen in most cases, so of course it makes sense to fly. What is ironic is that on Monday when I was flying to Chicago, because of delays, I could have made it to Chicago in less time driving than I did flying. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in the airport waiting for my plane to get in, then waiting for it to get cleaned, then waiting for stewardesses to show up since they somehow disappeared... it was a very trying 3 hours.

Once I finally got in, I found that I had accidentally booked the wrong hotel. I stay at a particular Club Quarters when I'm in town since it's about 2 blocks from the office. This time, however, I must have selected the wrong Club Quarters when booking my flight so I was about 15 blocks from the office. I'm still thinking I was somehow being conspired against, but I haven't put together enough proof yet...

So I got in late, I'm far away from work, and I'm hungry, which leads into the real crux of why this tip sucked so much ass. Each night that I ordered food, I never once received it in less than an hour an 20 minutes. One night I ordered from the restaurant in the hotel, which was the quickest at an hour twenty, but that's pretty freakin' ridiculous for the hotel's in house restaurant.

Another night I ordered from a Chinese place right down the road and got it an hour and 35 minutes later. Trying my luck for a third time I ordered a pizza from a joint not too far away at 5:35 pm, as soon as I got back from work hoping to have some food in my belly in an hour's time, tops. I hadn't had anything substantial all day so I was close to starving. Finally, at 7:40 pm my food showed up. Over TWO HOURS after I ordered.

Two things add to why these delays were so fist shakingly angering. First, each time I ordered I was told that my food would be there in 30 minutes to an hour, yet not once were they even close. Is Chicago on some different time schedule than the rest of the world? Secondly, the tax in Chicago is enough to give you a heart attack, assuming the greasy ass pizza didn't. There's a 12% sales tax. Twelve. Freakin'. Percent. And it's not as if anything is cheap in that town to begin with.

On top of these things, the people in town that I dealt with (check-in lady at the hotel, cabbies, delivery guys, whoever) are all extremely unfriendly. Maybe it's because I live in the middle of "Minnesota Nice", but is it that hard to attempt to crack a smile, say hello, use some common courtesys, or not scream in predominantly curse words to whoever is on the other end of the phone while someone is waiting to check out at the CVS to pay double what a Diet Coke should? Maybe being polite and "nice" just isn't in the cards for the population of Chicago, which is pretty sad and one of the main reasons (outside of the continued bad luck with anything I do in the town) why I really don't like Chicago.

But I'm back now, thankfully, and I can go back to seeing happier faces, actually say hi to people I see on the street, and buy food without having to cough up a second mortgage to pay the sales tax on it. Screw Chicago, it's Minnesota for me.

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