Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pulling a New York Look


After my testing the first day, I had to find another hotel. The Marriott was not a friendly place--price wise. A couple I had met at a Christian writer's conference a while back, had offered to help me and give me a place to stay. They did live more than an hour south of the city, but I called them that first day and they said they could come get me by 4:00 PM-ish.

When it was 4:00, I called them to check on where to meet and was disappointed to find out they changed their mind at the last minute. Oh wow ... now what?

This left me with only a few hours to find a hotel at the last minute again. President Obama was still in town. (I think he owes me $100.00 which was the extra charge for the Marriott!) The social services department tried to help me, but the hotels were all expensive. I was left with the housing I rejected the first dark, night, in the dreaded ghetto.

So I booked it for the next three days and trudged to the apartment building with my luggage. I followed my phone's GPS but found myself on an abandoned street in front of the old Cook County Hospital. It's walls were cracked and aged and it's appearance scary like an old murder film. I was cautious and kept looking around me. I saw one guy but didn't want to ask him directions; I looked like a tourist and it was dangerous to let on I was vulnerable. I know--I grew up in New York.

I found the building and recognized it from the night before. I had keys this time and after navigating the entrance, took the squeaky, smelly elevator to the third floor. At least I'm safe and can open the windows on the third floor.

Hangin' in the Hood
Once in, the room was clean but barren. The building was old and neighborhood right next to a country prison and the freeway with many abandoned buildings. My footsteps on the tile floor echoed until I opened the window to let some air in. The noise was deafening: sirens, traffic, honking, people yelling, fire trucks, ambulances...non-stop day and night. I kept the windows shut.

There was no where to walk to and get take-out food or groceries. I had some protein bars and the only thing in the snack machine on the ground floor was chips and cookies. Dinner that night was not fit for a diabetic trying to get a pancreas transplant.

The intersection across from the apartment
I was there three days and nights, keeping a chair wedged under the door knob whenever I was in the room with the door locked. Oh, I made it okay. But the environment was not healthy nor safe as I found out on day two.

After my testing on the second day, I found out there was a hospital a mile down the street with a cafeteria. I walked down to see if I could get a salad and some protein for dinner. I got an awesome salad and sadly, the only protein was typically gross hospital meatloaf. But it was better than chips and cookies.

While walking back, a man jumped out from an indented doorway and went to grab me. "Hey sweet sister. What ya' got for me?" And he didn't mean my salad and meatloaf. Two things saved me--A protective angel from God and my New York attitude.

I turned and looked at him with the most threatening New York look I could. And not the fake kind you imitate in the mirror. This look was, "I'm not in the mood and don't mess with me." And it worked. He backed off into his pitiful doorway hiding place and waited for the next victim.

Here's the doorway. The faces
have been blurred to protect the innocent (?)...

I walked the short distance to my apartment, face contorted with anger, and locked myself in my room. The salad was great but the meatloaf ended up in the garbage.

I vowed not to stay in that apartment again. Especially after I learned that POP, POP, POP were gun shots from gang battles nearby!

The next time I was in Chicago for the wait for a pancreas, a taxi cab drove me to my new residence in the city after I was kicked out of an assisted living home and had gone from hotel to hotel. (More later!) I watch the driver's route on my phone's GPS to be sure he's not taking me for a ride. Great to have technology.

When he didn't get off the right exit I started to panic a bit."Why did you pass the exit?"

"Oh, that exit," he pointed to. "I know another way around it. I'm a white cab driver in a white taxi. I don't drive through that neighborhood."

"That's where I stayed last time."

"And you're alive to tell it?"

I sat back against the vinyl seat, a bit disturbed but proud to have survived!

(Since then, everyone I talk to in Chicago is amazed I stayed there! Ha...they don't know the power of a crazed New York Italian!)

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  1. Read your "about me" and want to say that you are a survivor. I enjoyed your little adventure in chicago and was glad to know that you had the lions heart of a New Yorker.

  2. Thank you, Ajlounyinjurylaw... You know it is impossible to kill off a New Yorker! 8^) And I am so happy to still be alive and kicking. YOU have an awesome week.