How to Chicago: Don’t Mess with Cops

33. Survive. Don’t mess with police. Common sense for most people, but there are a few of us that have trouble with authority. Growing up in the suburbs this became an issue for me. I thought putting the kibosh on teenage fun was the primary objective of police in the absence of any “real” crime. Maybe. Maybe not. What is certain is that I was irreverent when they appeared. 

In an expansive metropolis, however, it’s very different. Police there are perpetually working with real problems, real crime, real morons and issues. Their job is arduous. Their job is scary. They won’t mess with your average citizen unless you are doing something very stupid or really wrong. 

So don’t add to their shit pile by being an asshole. 

Unless you live in Geneva or some place. In that case, dick away. They are trying to ruin your fun. 

How to Drive Chicago: Parallel Park

32. Drive. So many city dwellers fail at this simple maneuver. I, for one, am a prodigious parker by parallel. Give me 1 inch clearance from front and back bumper and I’ll slide in there faster than you can say purple rain. I actually have it listed on my resume. 

– Attended Elmhurst College

– Physical Therapist

– ’91 Homecoming King

– Saw Prince live in concert

– Parallel parking god. 

How apropos as most people don’t know that Prince was an amazing parallel parker as well. 

I digress. Learn how to parallel park. I mean go out and practice it if you have to. It’s essential for living in any big city and it’s embarrassing if you can’t get it done quickly.  Use your hazards to clue in cars to the rear that you are parking (a turn signal seems to confuse people behind). Set up directly parallel with the car that will ultimately be in front of you. Reverse. Turn the wheel all the way to the right. One one thousand. two one thousand. Turn the wheel all the way to the left. Boom. Bob’s your uncle. You’re done. 

How to Drive Chicago: Do Not Swerve into Oncoming Traffic to Avoid Potholes

31. Drive. There are 1.8 million potholes in Chicago proper. Do not swerve into oncoming traffic to avoid them. Come on. I’m astonished at how often I see this. If you need to avoid a pothole or any obstruction in your lane, slow down and do it cautiously . You may actually have to wait for oncoming traffic to pass before you maneuver around your pothole. Do not swerve to the left into approaching traffic at full speed causing the driver opposite you to hammer on their brakes. That is just acutely ignorant. The issue is on your side of the road. You’re the one that must yield. 

How to Chicago: Car Wash

30. Thrive.  Chicago hand car washes, the ones where you pull into a garage and then exit the vehicle and let the bathing begin (the car, not you…..though that would be an interesting concept) flood the landscape. Here’s what I’ve noticed. The one right around the corner run by people of Middle Eastern descent without any cars waiting in line is just as good as the one 6 blocks away run by Latinos with 30 cars in the queue (well, almost). It’s water and soap on metal. Some vacuuming.  You don’t need to wait in line 70 minutes for that. 

One suggestion if you work at said car wash. There is no need to Armor All the brake! Jesus Christ . It’s like stepping on a wet fish when you pull  away. 

How to Drive Chicago: Fender Benders 

29. Drive. You’re inching along in traffic. You’re on the text machine. You get into a fender bender while on the expressway. Use your mirrors to acknowledge each other and then… MOVE YOUR CARS TO THE SHOULDER !!!  Do not, I repeat, do not sit in the center lane waiting for the police to arrive and determine who’s at fault. There is no forensic science in this. Police do not need to see the exact position and location of the cars. You are ruining everyone’s morning by causing a huge back up. People are going to be late for work because of you. They are going to miss their flight because of you. Children will die…because of you. 

Be smart. Use your brain.  And yeah, don’t text while driving blah blah blah. 

How to Drive Chicago: Alleys. 

28. Drive. Chicago is a city of alleys. A great deal of us drive in them daily. To exit an alley and enter the street a car must cross a sidewalk fairly blindly. Do it slowly and cautiously with your head on a swivel. Do not punch your car horn twice and zip on out. It startles oncoming pedestrians and irritates the local homeowners. You may think that you’re doing people on foot a service, but I think it’s lazy.  Hitting the horn is not an excuse to swiftly exit the ally.  Walkers with headphones blaring may not hear it. There’s only 1 prudent way to do this and that’s as slowly as possible. No horn needed. 

We’ve already covered this I guess… car horns are irksome. 

How to Drive Chicago: Merge Guilt

27. Drive. When merging into thick expressway traffic from an on-ramp, pick out a car in front of you that’s trying to do the same thing. Let them do your dirty work for you. Once she’s fought her car into traffic pull in front of her and do the same thing. She just did it so chances are she’ll let you in no problem and you don’t need to deal with all the angry drivers behind you. Let’s call it merge guilt.