Chicago Dispatch: Walking to the Chicago Cultural Center


"So we are heading downtown to meet you in a bit and then we can figure out what to do", click he hung up the phone. 

"But I hate aimlessly walking around downtown trying to make a plan", I grumbled to myself as I dipped a french fry into my mix of Mango Mayo and Old Bay Mayo at the Good Stuff Eatery on South Wabash. It was a Monday afternoon and those generally tend to be uneventful in any city. Especially at 1 pm, nothing happens then. People with jobs walk back to their desks after their afternoon meals while others wonder who don't have either a job or a meal wonder when they will get their next one. I was the third kind, there is always a third kind, who got off work early today because I was doing a shorter shift; props for getting off work early on a Monday. 

So I wait for my friends to show up as I sip my Milky Way milk shake. It's so rich, the Milky Way and ice cream have been blended so well and made so thick, like a rich malt. I take a break from struggling to sip some, instead, I try to spot caramel coated peanuts to pull up through my straw. I stare at my phone screen, urging it to entertain me with a notification. Nothing, it's a Monday afternoon after all. 

Several fries later as I get to the bottom of my milkshake, there are still no notifications. So I decid to take a walk and see if I can remember any work to complete. I tend to make a lot of mental lists like ways to entertain myself, games to check out on the app store while waiting in hospitals, things to shop for, errands to run when I'm downtown.  The last one I struggled to pull up since it was the end of summer so I didn't really have much work downtown. In fact, I was just heading home when I got the call "to do something downtown". 


Finally after a good 20 mins of walking around I thought of something but bad timing because that's when they show up. My friend and his friend, who is also kind of my friend, was visiting Chicago. So it was our responsibility to show him a good time, that's what friends in faraway places are supposed to do. (Take note) So I'm rushing back from the FedEx office and I spot them standing at the corner of Wabash and Monroe. 


"What's the plan?'

"I don't know. What do you feel like doing?" 
"I don't mind anything, honestly. I'm just here for a laid back holiday"

I inwardly rolled my eyes and said "Okay, let's go see the Cultural Center, have you seen it yet? They shot a scene from Sense 8 in there". 


"Cool" 


This is why I never visited all the tourist spots when I first moved to Chicago so I could go see them when my tourist friends come down to see me. (Another one of my lists, *does an eyebrow wiggle*). So we trek down to the Cultural Center and our tourist friend is in a massive rush to make it to the edifice. Puzzled but unsurprised my fellow Chicago friend and I continue to walk leisurely. When on holiday walking at a leisurely pace is your best bet on Michigan Avenue. Especially in the summer time, not only does this take the pressure off you to get to your destination before the person behind you starts to overtake you and/or huff and puff but also it allows you to enjoy the remnants of a Chicago summer in August. Impatient and almost lost in the crowd our tourist friend waves, his eyes pleading that we walk faster so he can talk to us. 


He slows down to explain to us how Shake Shack has the best 'shroom burgers' and we got to try them sometimes. I did when a few weeks ago. Delicious. Not the case with my fellow Chicagoan. 


We walk through the grand doors of the Chicago Athletic Association and join the queue. It's pretty short since we missed the lunch hour rush. After a President Obama burger, fries and milkshake, there was no room for 'Shroom burgers' from Shake Shack in my stomach, so I played navigator and pulled us out of the insane crowd that forms between the construction railings, entrance to a parking garage, a bus stand and exits of several restaurants. We head to the Face Fountain and find a spot on the grass. 

"You eat meat, right?"

"Of course, why wouldn't I?", I responded offended by such an absurd question. 

After an uneventful impromptu park picnic, we dust ourselves off the ground and continue our journey to the Cultural Center. Tourist friend continues leaping on the pavement and non-tourist Chicago friends at a leisurely pace- both arrive at the steps of the Cultural Center at the same time. 


The secret to braving downtown foot traffic is to set your own pace. You can walk as fast as you want but the pedestrian traffic lights and the slow, lost and confused children and elderly folks will always bog you down. However, if you pace yourself, you can check your messages, take a few calls, be alert and also find the best possible route with the least possible obstruction and make it to your destination in time. Added bonus is also the chance to make it in time for every 'walk sign', trust me there is a pace that lines them all up for you. Moreover slow walking means you can anticipate panhandlers and those 'Eat Fresh' and 'Greenpeace' volunteers from miles away and think up a good excuse/avoiding strategy as well. No offense to you guys, but really, I prefer not be stopped inside of a on the pavement to talk about how much money I can donate to your cause. 


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The Chicago Dispatch is a weekly status update that includes survival hacks, tips, cons and pros of a decision that Ivashkov chose to make during, before or after her commute. This post intends to help you understand or in a parallel world live through a decision that ,having seen the consequences, you can avoid making in your own life, unless you're a rebel. Then good for you man! 
Over and out. 

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