When my friend Pat headed for Chicago this week with her granddaughter, I gave her a list of what I thought they would enjoy doing.
I forgot to tell her what to not do, what to watch out for, where not to go.
When I went to Chicago in the first place, I was relying on my extensive life experience which I had gained after living for one year in Alexandria outside of Washington D.C. When I write my trilogy about angels and demons, I often think back to how busy I know I kept my Guardian angels and I include scenarios that have some roots in reality when my Guardians bailed me out of certain situations.
Sometimes the Guardians looked like ordinary cops and bus drivers. Say, for example, the time I was in Chicago before I actually lived there, having a job interview at Children’s. As long as I was in town, I applied to a bunch of other hospitals. I was in the neighborhood of one particular candidate I was considering—namely Cook County Hospital—and a police car pulled over to the side of the road where I was walking. He said, “What are you doing here?” I probably bobbed the ponytails that were inevitably in my hair and said, “Looking for a job! I am applying to Cook.”
“Girl, you’re the wrong color to be down here!” the cop said. Then he flagged down a city bus. The bus pulled over and opened its doors. The cop escorted me to the door and told me to get on. He said to the bus driver, “You take this young lady out of here and don’t let her get off until she’s in the right neighborhood.” So I got a police/CTA escort out of the south side of Chicago.
Another time the CTA personnel wasn’t so kind. When I was on the El going to a doctor’s appointment after I broke my leg skiing, I hobbled on my crutches to the end of the train car to sit so I would be out of most of the foot traffic. My leg was in a full cast and wasn’t very compactable. One of the El CTA guys came through the end door that comes from the engineering room. He didn’t like that my leg was where it was. He used lots of spicy words at me. Like, “move your Spicy Word leg out of my Spicy Word way or I’m gonna break your other Spicy Word leg!” I quickly came up with a way to make my cast more Spicy Word compactable.
Sadly, that’s not my only bad CTA story. When Jason and I got married, some of the many relatives that came to Chicago for our wedding included my grandparents, who were in their eighties. They’d been in ministry all their lives, plus my grandpa had done social work for the state simultaneously for many of those years. He was a regular Good Samaritan. When Grandpa and Grandma were on the El, a couple of low life thugs zeroed in on Grandpa as their next mark. One thug got in front of Grandpa and when the door closed on the train, pretended his foot was caught in the door. Of course, Grandpa jumped to help, bent down to give aid and make sure the young man got his foot cleared and was all right. At the same moment, the thug’s partner pickpocketed Grandpa. Took his wallet with everything in it. Grandpa had spent his life carrying Bible tracts and sharing them wherever he went. I hope his wallet was stuffed with Bible tracts that day, and I hope those thugs read where they were going if they died that night!
Usually on alert whenever I took public transportation and usually employing certain habits that were just common sense preventative measures, one day I was particularly tired, and the bus ride was really short, and I was getting off in just a couple of blocks anyway. So I slung my purse over my shoulder onto my back instead of tucked in front, where I’d always know where it was and who had their hands on it. I felt the slightest little tug. I spun around and two guy were standing there, checking out the ceiling of the bus like it was the Sistine Chapel. I glared at them, but they hardly made eye contact anyway. Fortunately, I was smart enough not to say anything sassy and I turned back around, taking my purse with me. Amateurs. I was thankful for that at least. And I didn’t let fatigue decide for me if I’d implement my common sense habits after that. And of course, tired or not, I always had my Guardian angels with me. That part, I'm especially thankful for!
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