Feb 232014
 

If you’ve tuned into the news lately, you’re aware that the weather in the Midwest and beyond has been intense. It’s been snowy to say the least, but we’re tough. We can handle it. Except when people get stuck in the alleys. That’s where we draw the line.

A few weeks ago on Saturday morning, I was awakened by the sound of spinning wheels. I looked out and saw a truck stuck in the snow. The alley hadn’t been plowed and I wasn’t sure it would. Alleys aren’t top priority in Chicago after a snowstorm.

The driver kept hitting the gas. The wheels spun. This went on for an hour and a half.

If you’ve ever been awakened by somebody stuck in the snow before drinking your first cup of coffee in the morning then you know how blow-out-your-brains inducing this can be. Think I’m exaggerating? Watch for yourself:

Imagine hearing this for an hour and a half.

Just as I was about to go out and bring the driver a shovel, I saw my neighbor trying to help. Strange thing was, the driver didn’t seem to want his help. Eventually, two burly men arrived and pushed the driver out of the snow.

A beautiful calm fell over my alley and all I could think was, silence is wonderful.

Note to self: emergency shovels are essential and rather cheap.

Note to others: Chicago winters aren’t something to be messed with. Prepare well.

 

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 Posted by at 12:15 pm
Feb 192013
 

If my alley could talk…

A week ago, at 3 a.m., I heard shouting. I sprung up from my bed, darted towards the window, and lifted the shade to see two guys screaming at each other. One was thin and dressed in white t-shirt and jeans with an open windbreaker. He was wobbling as he walked and I couldn’t tell if it was because he was completely inebriated or if it was because of our icy alley. I soon came to the realization that it had everything to do with alcohol. His friend, a big burly man with shaggy red hair and a beard was screaming at the top of his lungs. “I’M NOT GOING TO LET YOU DRIVE HOME.”

The conversation went something like this:

James Dean Dude: “Why do you care dude? Huh, why do you care?!”

Red Haired Dude: “Because I f’ing care about you okay. I don’t want you to f’in kill someone. I don’t want you to kill yourself!”

James Dean Dude: “Who cares if I kill myself?!”

Red Haired Dude: “I f’ing care okay! I F’ING CARE!

James Dean Dude and Red Haired Dude get into a scuffle. Red Haired Dude comes out of it with an accessory.

James Dean Dude: What, so you’re a tough guy now? YOU’RE A F’ING TOUGH GUY? Give me my glasses.”

Red Haired Dude: “No, I’m not giving you your glasses! You’re not driving home. I’m not letting you drive home!”

James Dean Dude reaches for glasses, but Red Haired Dude is way too strong for drunken James Dean Dude.

James Dean Dude: “Give me my glasses.”

Red Haired Dude: “No.”

James Dean Dude: “Give me my glasses, give me my glasses, give me my glasses, give me my glasses dude, GIVE ME MY F’CKIN’ GLASSES, GIVE ME MY F’CKIN’ GLASSES, GIVE ME THEM, GIVE THEM TO ME, GIVE THEM TO ME.” X 10.

Red Haired Dude: “No, you’re acting like an f’king dick.

James Dean Dude: FFFFFFFFFUUUUU!

Red Haired Dude: “FU you F’king dick! You are f’king wasted, you stupid piece of ish.”

James Dean Dude: (Stomps around with arms flailing.) “Give me my glasses or I’ll call the cops.”

Red Haired Dude: “I’ll call them right now. Here’s my phone.” (Lifts phone into air).

At this point I’m hoping he actually does it, but of course he doesn’t.

They continue screaming like this for five more minutes and I decide that this is my cue to call the cops if I ever want to get back to sleep again.

James Dean Dude: (Stomps around again minus arms) “I can’t see! I CAN’T SEE WITHOUT MY GLASSES!”

Red Haired Dude: “Walk to the street.”

James Dean Dude: “I can’t see. I can’t see.”

Red Haired Dude: “Walk to the street. WALK MFK’er. Walk!”

James Dean Dude: “I can’t see!”

Red Haired Dude: “Put one foot in front of the other and walk.”

James Dean Dude: “I can’t see!”

This is when I realized that the James Dean Dude had some major problems beyond being a little drunk. I was watching a full blown alcoholic with severe mental problems. I started to feel really bad for the Red Haired Dude because I could tell that he really cared for him and I could see this friendship ending very soon. I could also picture the Red Haired Dude being completely broken up by the friendship and I could imagine the James Dean Dude being indignant about it.

I wanted to open up the window and tell the Red Haired Dude that it was useless; that he was wasting his breath. I wanted to say that the James Dean Dude’s problems were way bigger than he could ever imagine and that no amount of trying to make him see that he is screwing up his life will make him change, but it didn’t matter. It wasn’t my battle to fight.  It wasn’t even the Red Haired Dudes battle to fight. It was the James Dean Dudes fight and he was in a battle with himself.

The cops were supposedly on their way, but probably not.

A few minutes later, I saw another man walking down the alley and I was scared for him. The two guys were so aggressive I thought they might beat him up just for being around. Luckily, they didn’t. They just moved out of the way and continued on with their argument. And just like out of a movie, a homeless man erupted onto the scene. He walked right up to the two dudes, completely fearless, and said, “Come on guys. Don’t argue. Why all the screaming?”

They both looked at the homeless man and I thought maybe, just maybe they were going to realize how ridiculous and rude they were being, but no. They just shook their heads at him like he was the crazy one and turned the corner.

The alley became silent again.

I learned two things from episode:

  1. Alcoholics make miserable companions.
  2. I fear Wicker Park in the summertime.

Stay tuned for more stories from The Alley From Hell.

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