Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Stories from the Ghetto, Urrr...I mean City


It's such a pretty city...
Chicago was, well, an interesting city. When I traveled out there in April to have pancreas pre-transplant testing, the hospital provided a housing assistant to help me find affordable "housing." Their motives were sincere--their evaluation of someone like me staying somewhere like that was far from sane. And I had no idea what I was getting into.

The instructions for where to go were vague and I had never been downtown alone. While on the plane, I was thrilled to have WIFI for a sale rate of $5.00 for the flight. A sweet, dear friend from Arizona has a niece in the Chicago area and connected me to her on Facebook. Because I hooked up with her from the plane, we were able to exchange phone numbers and with short notice, she offered to pick me up from the airport and take me to the apartment complex. Thank GOD!

It was 9:30 PM and I was so grateful Lenee was willing to get me. It was out of her way to give me a ride. She had a picture of herself on Facebook and when I reached the luggage area I recognized her. I wanted her to just wait at the curb, which was easier, but she insisted on parking and coming in to get me.

What an amazing woman!

Once she drove me to the location of the "medical district housing," we both realized the area was part of a "ghetto" area in south Chicago. Not to call any area a ghetto, but it was not the right place for a short, stubby, white, Italian woman.

We drove front to back and couldn't figure out how to get in. I finally bypassed a resident coming out of the gated, iron, tall-fenced-with-sharp-pointy-tops, entrance area. I made my way inside, past an old guy sitting up against the wall smoking a but, and found a security guard--on his cell phone behind the counter, crouched down on the floor. I guess he wanted privacy.

"Oh no, ma'am, I ain't got no key." He fumbled to flip shut his cell phone.

"But I was told to come here and check in to room 314."

"I know nothin' about no key or no checkin' and the manager only works in the morning." He stood tall now, wanting to look like he was securing the premises.

I was glad Lenee insisted she wait until I got in. I walked to her car.

"I can't get the security guard to tell me what to do--he has no idea. And I don't like the looks of this place. I think I'd better find a hotel if you don't mind giving me a ride to one." Lenee and I both searched our cell phones for local hotels.

"Good thing I stayed," she assured me. "This is a bad part of town. You can't stay here."

Chicago. Now 10:00 PM on a Tuesday. President Obama was in town and so was the entire world--there was no room at the Inn for me. The only hotel with one room left was a Marriott. Lenee gave me a ride over and I assured her I would be okay. Because President Obama was in town and it was the last room, the Marriot charged me $279.00 for the night, before taxes and fees! BIG OUCH! But I had no other choice.

"I have something for you," she approached me with a gold, shiny box. "I was going to give this to a friend, but I knew I was supposed to give it to you tonight. I looked at the beautiful necklace and the words written on each charm: Faith, Hope, and Love.

We hugged tight and in less than an hour, I had a friend for life and an ANGEL to be with me in Chicago. Lenee saved my life that night. Could you see me lugging my backpack and carry on, late at night, in the well-known ghettos of Chicago? I don't think so.

So the cheap wireless on the flight, a dear friend from 20+ years ago in Arizona, her amazing niece, Facebook, cell phones with GPS, and God's protection, all worked out. 8^)

Never underestimate God or his angels!

Lenee - My Angel!
Tomorrow--the continued story as I find myself back at the ghetto for the next three days and find myself dodging an all out attack!

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  1. WOW, what an amazing story of just one night! Our God was definitely watching over you (& Lenee) and always takes care of His children! I enjoy your posts and pray continued blessings for you!

  2. Thank you, Colleen. If only I had the room to include more details. 8^) But that will go in my third book, A Heart Like His... And tomorrow's post will have more shenanigans! God is so very good!

  3. Cindy- do you know about couch surfing? It is an international site where people open their homes to others for a night or several, free of charge. It's a great site, gets you in touch with local people, and is SAFE. We have been using it for 5 years , both as travelers and hosts. Go to to check it out. Save your sanity, money, and get outta the bad part of town! Blessings! Debi Tupper