When I was a child I visted Chicago on a family trip that involved going to the top of the Sears Tower and carousing in the parks along Lake Michigan. The typical family get away. It would be over 15 years before I would return.
In the fall of 2002 I was riding in a truck with my trainer, as all new employees for Werner Etnerprises have to do for a while. We had a load going to Chicago to be delivered at 10:30 AM, I mean, downtown Chicago. We were coming in from the south side on the Ryan Expressway and were approaching it's junction with the Stevenson. Having been so long since having last been in Chicago, I was remarking to my trainer about my childhood expereince at the top of the building so dominant on the midmorning skyline and he recounted his opportunity, likewise, invited up by an employee in the building after making a delivery there years ago.
Traffic was heavy, but moving along smoothly at 45 miles an hour. I returned my gaze from the skyscraper to dead center on my windshield. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a car moving along side me on the left side, outside my window, only it was also moving toward me. We were now passing the off-ramp which curved and descended onto the Stevenson Expressway. It was becoming apparent that the driver was attempting to beat me, into the small space I had left between myself and the car in front of me, to the off-ramp and was coming over way too soon and too quick. I said "Ohhhh myyyy Goddddd" very slowly and drawn out. My trainer, still looking at the Sears Tower said "What?" as he turned his head toward me, follwed by "Oh shit."
I check my right-side mirror but that off-ramp was packed with traffic, so I had no where to go. I applied the brakes to try and help her get in front of me before she got into my lane but it was too late. The rear wheel-well of her car caught in the chrome bumper on the front of the tractor which caused the rear of her car to pivot. As inertia turned into angular momentum he car swung in front me, the broadside of her car meeting the front of my truck. The car bounced off the bumper and continued to spin-ff to the left, now facing the oncoming traffic in the off-ramp. The car slammed into the conrete wall at the edge of the elevated highway and an oncoming station wagon plowed into it, crimping the hood up at a perverse angle.
A large triangle painted on the cement eventually seperates the thru lanes from the off-ramp and I pulled into it and stopped the truck. The driver was a young, pregnant lady who amazingly enough was not injured save some frazzled nerves and a bad case of the stupids. Her boyfriend, who had been driving in the car behind her saw the whole thing and even he admittedly couldn't fathom what she was thinking when she began merging into my lane so early.
Since then, every time I go to Chicago, it seems it is marred by some bad experience. Any who has read my journal for any length of time knows I have little enthusiasm for driving into or through that city for any reason. Traffic jams and construction are the usual culprits, which ordinarily is expected in large cities. It's just they seem to ALWAYS catch me, even at odd times like 11pm.
So last night, entering Gary, Indiana on I-80/90 at 5:30 pm for my 7pm delivery on 47th Street in Chicago didn't yield any positive thoughts for me along my journey. Imagine my surprise to find the traffic moving quickly along the southside. Imagine my amazement as I scooted up the Ryan to the Stevenson without a single backup. Traffic slowed a little on the Stevenson as I prepared to make my way westward to Kedzie Ave. but as it was only a few miles from the junction, this was completely tolerable given my event-free travel so far.
I finally get to the grocery store on 47th Street I'm delivering to to find two trucks already in the dock, meaning I will have to wait. Around 9:30 the two trucks pull-off and I back into the dock. I go inside and, as I expect, the receiving area is littered in pallets of dry goods. I hand the paperwork to the receving manager and tell her that I have to take a 6 hour break anyway, and for her to take her time, get to me when she can and just come get me when she's done. She informs me she's leaving soon but will let the night crew know.
I go back to my truck and piddle around a bit then decide to lie down about 10:30. At midnight there is a knock on my door. It is the night receiving guy who informs me that I am at the wrong place. "Huh?" I manage, rubbing the eye boogers away. "This is store #789 and this load is for store #788 on Cicero. They called and they haven't recevied their truck yet."
Turns out he's right. The paperwork is right. The load is for a different store. I double check my pickup and delivery information and I followed everything correctly. I picked up the correct load, was given the correct paperwork, but dispatch sent me to the wrong place with it.
At 2:30am, 8 hours after I got to my destination, I finally got unloaded and was supposed to be back in Indianapolis by 9am, on 1.5 hours of sleep.
Bite me, Chicago.