Living in the Midwest, especially in the Northern part brings boredom and lots of it. So, let’s say you’re 19 years old and an older brother of one of your friends (who drives a semi-truck) asks you if you want to take a road trip to Chicago, what do you say? If you are me you jump up and say YES as fast as possible. What else are you going to do? Sit around, drink Blatz beer and thumb through the High School year book? I already did that last night. I wanted to see Chicago.
The load was produce, from a distribution center to a large grocery store. We loaded the truck and were on our way. I was excited; I was hoping to see something I’d never seen before. I wasn’t even sure what that would be – a true adventure.
The trip took a long time, much longer than expected. (Part of this could have been all the country music on the radio, that is the worst, but I was a guest.) In fact by the time we got to the North side of Chicago it was past midnight. That’s also when I realized no one knew where I was. Not a really big deal, but still shouldn’t someone know I was out “driving truck” that night?
The load was due in the early morning so we decided to drive to the South side and park near the grocery store. Neither of us was familiar with Chicago and this was the first delivery he had done for this company. We were both surprised when we pulled off the highway into the Cicero neighborhood of South Chicago.
I have seen my share of poor neighborhoods, but nothing like this. In the Midwest, one way to judge how poor a neighborhood is – is by counting broken windows. Here it was easy because all the windows were busted out. Keep in mind, this is Chicago, it gets fucking cold in Chicago!
It didn’t take long before we were greeted by the locals. They come out to say hello by standing in the middle of the street, this way you will stop and they can rob you blind. My friend’s brother may have been raised in the country, but he had enough street smarts to know they would move out of the road if he kept his truck moving forward. Oh, yeah, it was also about this time he asked me to reach into his glove box and pull out his handgun. So, we had that as well… He referred to it by the name Betty, or Mary, or something. He may have had some street smarts, but he was all country.
We found the grocery store, but it was in the worst corner of the neighborhood so we continued to drive though the back blocks until finding a police station. We parked the truck right up against the station. We had three hours before we could deliver the produce. We took turns sleeping while the other held the gun and kept on eye on the back of the truck.
The next morning the groceries were delivered, on time. It was the last time I volunteered to go trucking and go to Chicago on a whim. However, I did get to see something new that night and also got to sleep with a gun. Check “sleep with a gun” off the bucket list.