Chicago.

For the first thirteen years of my life I spent every summer at my family’s wheat farm in Montana. Before you even think it, no we did not have cows/horses/pigs. My parents only did spring wheat, as it meant my dad could commute between Seattle and Montana. When I say “commute” I mean it in the sense that he would shuttle back and forth 2-3 times between April and September, depending on me, my schedule and my mom’s pleas for him to come back (it’s tough being away, yknow?).

Anyways, small towns are the exact opposite of the city. People wave when they drive last you, often with the simplicity of two fingers raised from the wheel. It’s not as official as Southern hospitality, but it’s something that is lost in the city. Maybe it’s because there are more people per square mile, or maybe it’s because they are just that much more self centered. Either way, I like to think I got my manner from the country and my driving skills from the city (speed up or move!).

After driving from Green Bay, WI to Chicago in attempt to catch my flight home the past February, I endured a massive snowstorm. A storm my mother would have surely abandoned her car in the middle of and my boyfriend begged me not to drive through. After days of being away from home, I promised to be safe and pressed on with my front wheel drive Ford Focus (hatchback, see photo). Not to plug Ford or anything, but that thing can definitely hold its own. And even though I made it to Chicago with hours to spare, my flight was cancelled.

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So, there I am stuck in a city I’ve never explored though I have flown into it more times than I can count in the last two years. Rather than saying, ‘screw it! Let’s go exploring!’ I said, ‘mmmm shower, Ben and Jerry’s, hours of Big Bang theory.’ Maybe it’s my age, late 20’s are sooooo brutal (read: sarcasm) or my relationship status (though not Facebook official, it’s been two+ years) but there was nothing about this night that motivated me to trek into the wild Chicago airport suburbs.

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I was smart enough to bail on my flight before it was cancelled, effectively avoiding the scramble and panic of securing a seat on the next available flight out. I managed to get a seat with no problem by calling Alaska, although it did mean I missed my exit thus lengthening my commute to the airport by almost an hour. Ironically I had no issues driving in the snow covered freeway however later while looking for my hotel, following my phone map and shoving Jelly Bellys in my face I did encounter some issues. Kind of sad, no? I easily picked ice cream + jelly beans over wine.

I had an enjoyable, slow day before my 3pm flight out. Getting stuck was more of a blessing than a curse. The Chicago airport is big and bustley but it’s also home to the BEST AIRPORT FOOD EVER: the Frontera Grill. Thank you, Rick Bayless. Anything you get there is good, but the guacamole is the best. Put it in your face and thank me later.

When it was close to my flights boarding time I leisurely walked over to my gate. I usually stand amongst the MVPs and MVP Golds to ensure early boarding. People that say, “I don’t understand why everyone is so anxious to sit down” (usually with a scoff) are commoners with no boarding status. I’m anxious because sitting > standing, putting my bag up top > being forced to check it and getting stuck behind a row of people that only once a century < than not.

Though my low-level status doesn’t allow me to board until the first class, Golds, armed forces members (thanks for your service, btw), anyone with something resembling a child or limp – I SOMEHOW manage to survive.

While waiting somewhat patiently to board, I noticed a woman moving glances between the gate and her ticket. She approached a nicely dress first class or Gold member and politely said, “Excuse me? Is this flight going to Seattle?”

Though a simple, “yes” probably would have sufficed, THIS guy decided that, “I don’t work here.” was a more appropriate response. Who says that??

Dude, I get it. Chicago was a total asshole to me, too. However, I’m not an asshole in return to everyone I meet. So, in the event that you are ever approached by someone with this same question, I have compiled a list of appropriate responses to get you by:

1. “Yes.”
2. “Yes, it is.”
3. “I sure hope so, ’cause that’s where I’m going!” (this should be said with a genuine, non-creeper smile.
4. “Yes, ma’am.”
5. “No.” (only if that’s really the answer.)

While it took me almost a full 15-seconds to come up with those extensive, deep and heroic responses I assure you that they will make someone’s day a little better.

PS: the aforementioned woman had an accent and this is exactly why non-Americans say things like “Americans are rude assholes.”

Lesson: don’t be a rude asshole, no matter where you are.

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