How to Drive Chicago: Zipper Merges 

23. Drive. All merges are zipper merges. Think about that phrase “zipper merge” and act accordingly. One car from the left. One car from the right. Do not deviate. Left, right, left, right. Whether you are entering the expressway, merging from 2 lanes into 1, or being redirected by construction, do it. It will speed everything up. 

Let people merge in front of you. It won’t ruin your life. 

How to Drive Chicago: No Texting in Turn Lane

14. Drive.   Ok. We are all going to check our phones when stopped at a red light. Better than doing it while moving. Listen for the honk behind you to let you know the when light goes greeen again. 

There is, of course, one exception. Waiting in the turn lane for the green, left arrow. There is no texting allowed in this lane EVER. 


The Chicago, left, green arrow is fleeting and like soldiers kicking in a door and entering homes in Kabul, we need to get as many troops through it as possible. Go. Go. Go. Any delay will result in several cars not making it through the light and I just can’t bear the thought of that. 

Do not grab your phone when stopped in the turn lane. 

How to Drive Chicago: Road Rage


Rendering by Owen

13. Survive.   All of this city driving can be exasperating.  Emotions can run high. I’ll admit I have been prone to verbal altercations in the past. Maybe even some road rage. I’ve changed. I’ve watched enough “First 48” to know that innumerable murders occur during heat of the moment exchanges. Last December in Arkansas, 3 year old Acen King was shot and killed when a man fired into a car that he thought had been following him too closely. Holy shit !

Throw a bird to someone and they could absolutely get out and shoot you in the head. It happens. Holler at somebody for tossing trash out the window and you never know if they’re packing a Glock and having a bad day. Just let it go. It’s not worth it. Meditate or something.

Nevertheless, if you absolutely must express yourself physically and/or verbally to a moronic motorist, pedestrian or elected official, instead of the trite “fuck you” and tired middle finger try blowing them a kiss. Get creative. “Jesus loves you” is way more weird and amusing and usually gets under your foe’s skin just the right amount. You’ve been warned, however. You may be shot in the head. 

How to Drive Chicago: Gapers Duh-lay

12. Gapers’ Duh Lay

Gaper. You are the scum of the earth

dregs of society

the lowest form of being


if you could just accelerate. keep pace. and look to the right

do 2 things at once

but you can’t

card carrying moron

distracted by a shiny coin

woof. woof. tongue wag

45 minutes of crawl.

totally worth it because you peeped a crooked fender

oh sweet crooked fender

perhaps a neck collar

so worth it


look look an ambulance

shiny ambulance

gaper.. i hardly know… smack you in the face you piece of trash – er

don’t you do it

don’t you dare do it!



We should all be accelerating past this accident

I will slap the gape out of your face

your lucky I’m a pacifist

Stay tuned for next week’s topic … road rage. 


How to Chicago: Public Transporchildren

Illustration by Wilson

11. Thrive.  Get your kids used to public transportation early. If your part of the epidemic and spend your evenings as a private shuttle service for your shortys, this is key. By age 12 children should be able to take a bus to baseball practice. Do a couple of dry runs with them of course. Save some notes of land marks and important streets into their phone. If they want to play rugby, an instrument, AND take dance class then they must carry some of the weight. You will raise independent, confident, young humans.

In Chicago and most other large cities you can acquire a Student Reduced Fare card (Ventra in Chicago). Students 20 years and younger ride public transportation for $ 0.75 from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. It makes me so happy.

How to Drive Chicago: Speed Cameras

10. Drive.  Speed cameras… I can’t help you. They bust me every couple of months. They’re set up in random locations at parks and schools. I’ve seen them in front of post offices. I’ve seen them where absolutely no school or park or post office exists. I’ve seen them behind trees. I’ve seen them adjacent to viaducts where you can barely spot them at all. My point is that their placement seems indiscriminate. The cameras themselves are narrow and gray and very difficult to identify against the ever-present slate backdrop of our winter sky, even from a close distance. At least paint them yellow or something to give us a fighting chance. I have yet to turn up any data citing children injuries at schools or parks due to speed. It’s an obvious money maker for a city that desperately needs the dough.

One strategy…use the Waze navigation app.  Keep it open when driving around and with fairly good accuracy it will warn you when a speed camera is ahead.

How to Chicago: Dinner Parties


Illustration by my friend Owen

9. Thrive. Stop frequenting bars and learn how to host a dinner party. No waiting in line. No listening to shitty music. No waving down a bartender. No paying $12 for a cocktail. Master the art of fish tacos. Precook everything or par cook some things if you want to cut down on stress. I prefer cooking with my guests present. It adds an extra element to the evening. Take your time. Sear a few things here, blanch a few things there.
Listen to your favorite music and drink very strong drinks for free. 

…charge your friends a corkage fee if you want to make a little cheddar on the side.