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The “Out-of-towners” in Chicago

The Way I See It

August 11, 2011
By John Sheda
Last week Deb and I ventured into the Windy City to see a couple Yankee / White Sox baseball games. We’ve been to Chicago a dozen times or so it seems but this years relaxing little get-away was anything but relaxing. At least that first day...LAST MONDAY!!!

 Do you remember that old 60’s movie, The Out of Towners, starring Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis? I am far, far too young to remember it, (har, har) but was told that everything that could go wrong for Jack and Sandy in the movie...did go wrong. Last Monday, the same thing happened to Deb and me!! Here’s how it started from beginning to end.

 I purchased both the ball game tickets and the motel tickets on line, getting the (ahem) very best deal I could. So with tickets in hand, we set off early Monday afternoon for Chicago. Our hotel was beautiful in Elmhurst, a nice little suburb of Chicago. We checked in and it’s at this stage of our trip that I realized the following will be the defining legacy of our trip.

Everyone knows Murphy’s Law...anything that can go wrong, will. This was not the case with us. Our law for the next 24 hours was this... “No matter what point we were standing at, the point we wanted to get to would be the absolute furthest point it could possibly be.” The hotel was four stories high and we got that fourth floor and our room was at the end of the fourth floor, the furthest point from the check-in / out desk. Yes, the furthest point.

 Ok, we get settled into our room. Deb’s unpacking and I have remote in hand. Isn’t it interesting men have to clutch that remote no matter where we go? I go through the very same channels we have at home but it’s just something I have to do. After flipping through the channels and being all unpacked, Deb and I are sitting on the couch, (No, no...stop thinking that), and figuring out the best way to get into Chicago for the ball game later.

 As we sit on the couch, not more than 30 minutes after we check in...WE HEAR AND SEE THE DOOR OPEN. AND IN WALKS SOME GUY IN ON US. Yes, a man enters our room!!! He  has a room key also. We see him and Deb screams, he sees us and he screams and we just stare at each other for about 10 seconds. The hotel had accidently (I hope), given him the same room that we had. This has never happend to us about you??? I called down to the desk and the clerk said these wonderful words, “That ain’t good.” That’s all. The gentleman, who entered our room, was horribly embarassed as were we, apologized over and over and returned to the main desk to get another room. 

 After getting over this, Deb and I took a walk around the hotel to see all it’s amenities and then decided to return to our room. Remember, the furthest point from where we are, thing I talked about earlier. When we got to our room, my card didn’t work. Deb tried hers and no good there either. Apparently, when the stranger that came into our room had his card keys re-programmed...ours were too. So standing outside our room and no way to reach the main desk...Deb or me had to get there to get new keys. Yes, I went. Have I mentioned yet, that it wasn’t too long ago that I had knee surgery? The main desk was the furthest point from where we were. And so the real saga begins.

 Now, ready for the game, we drive into Elmhust to take the train into the city. Who wants to drive in downtown Chicago? We have no idea of the train schedule but we want to get to the ball game early so we’re off to find the train session around 4:30 pm. We get to the station about 5:15, only to see the train leaving. Now looking at the schedule, we see the next one leaves at 6:13 pm. Game starts at 7:00. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

 The train station is closed to buy tickets but outside the station are some ticket buying machines. After fumbling around for about 15 minutes trying to figure them out, we finally purchase two tickets for two bucks a piece. Not a bad price I am thinking. But couldn’t there be a sign that reads (for out of towners, of course), WHEN STATION IS CLOSED, ONE MAY PURCHASE TICKETS ON THE TRAIN. No such sign....but that’s ok...’cuz we have tickets in hand.

 Here comes the 6:25. Finally. Games starts at 7:00 remember? Someone tells me it’s a short 30 minutes to downtown.’s a long 40 minutes at best. Deb and I hop on the train and finally relax. The train begins to move and shortly thereafter, the ticket man comes along to collect the tickets. Haruumph...I have our tickets and proudly hand them over to him. He looks at them then at us. He just stares and then this wry smile comes across his face and he says something like this loud enough for all to hear, “Mister, these are parking tickets, so unless you are driving this train and planning on parking it somewhere, they ain’t gonna do you no good.” We bought some kind of parking tickets at the train station.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

 So I shell out 4 bucks apiece to buy train tickets. Why wouldn’t there be a sign at that station?

 Now, I’m gonna condense this cuz it just gets more and more discombulated as the evening goes on. The train gets us just down town but a long ways away from the stadium. We have to find the subway. We are told its just a few blocks away. No, it is not just a few blocks away. It’s 8 Chicago blocks away. That furthest point thing again. It is now 7:15 and we still have to find the subway. My knees hurt. My feet hurt. And Deb? She just looks at me with disdain ‘cuz this happens all too frequently when traveling with me. We find the subway. We have absolutely no idea how to purchase a subway ticket. A guy comes over and helps us. We buy the ticket...but can’t figure how to slide the card into the slot to go throught turnstile.  The same guy takes the card from my hand and helps, not helps me...he inserts the card for me, and then also for Deb. 

 Now we wait for the subway. Subway finally comes. Takes fifteen minutes to get to the stadium except that it stops about four blocks away from the stadium. We walk and walk and walk. We’re late. We get to the stadium and guess what? All the gates to the stadium are now closed as the game has started. All the gates except one. Know which one is open for us?  The one that is the furthest one away from where we are standing. We walk around the entire stadium. Lights are on. We hear the cheers. But can’t get in. Finally we reach the one open gate, find our seats and already completely exhausted, Deb and I sit down and it’s the top of the 4th inning. We had already missed one/third of the ballgame.

 But the good news??? Yesseree, there is good news...the Yankees won 3-2. Bad news?  They scored all their runs in the first inning.

 Now, this column is long enough already so I’m not gonna tell you about our trip back to our hotel except that remember we had to reverse our order. And at around midnight, we are still walking around down town Chicago trying to find the train station to get back to Elmhurst.

 To wrap up this first day in Chicago, let me just finish with this...on our return trip to our hotel, WE WALKED AND WALKED AND WALKED...WE RODE THE SUBWAY, WE TOOK A TAXI AND WE TOOK THE TRAIN. I told Deb, if we had been a little closer to O’Hare airport, we could of taken a plane too.

 We reached our hotel room at 12:45 AM. Exhausted, worn out and definitely “out of towners.” So, how was your day?????


Well, That’s The Way I See It.

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