The Rambler has a confession to make.
No he is not secretly a Belieber. If that were the case that secret would be buried so deep down in the ground it would take an archaeologist 20 years digging around to find the last remnants of it.
No, the Rambler has a problem with highways. More specifically highway driving any way around Chicago. It’s not so much that I can’t do it. I just choose to avoid it like the bubonic plague whenever possible.
You have to understand that driving anywhere on the highways near Chicago is equivalent to participating in a blood sport. Only the blood is potentially the oil leaking out of your broken down car when a taxi decides he needs your lane .2 seconds after you.
But such it was that I had friends who would have been stuck at O’Hare airport had I not volunteered to drive up there to go get them. So here I was at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Tuesday to go and fetch them.
Two potential problems:
- I had never before been to O’Hare to pick anyone up before.
- My style and usual speed of driving would be the equivalent of bringing a pen knife to a nuclear bomb fight.
But I had made a decision to go there and was determined to begin kicking this habit of panicking at the mention of Chicago and highway in the same sentence. So, with the radio as my lone accompaniment, I was off north for the supposedly 53 minute trip.
1:30pm-1:34 “Stand By You“ Rachel Platten:
Appreciating the solidarity, I made my winding way through the suburbs where I live to the ramp which would begin my journey towards what would hopefully be an uneventful trip. Though I was certainly in familiar territory having gone through these streets so many times I could probably do it blinded, the fact I was essentially slaloming my way across town was no doubt a subconscious desire to avoid the inevitable.
1:34-1:38 “Sorry” Justin Bieber
Yeah you better be radio station now that I’ve reached the point of no return getting into the further left of the two turn lanes to go onto the highway. Luckily the fact that they had to choose a Bieber song right at this important juncture made me focus more on making sure I didn’t get killed attempting to merge onto the highway. I did want to apologize when I had to cut off a red truck in order to be over enough to get onto the ride highway. But the mental apology was quickly rescinded when proceeding to get cut off by three vehicles in rapid succession including the truck, a car, and a semi. While I was doing at least 70.
1:39-1:43 “Can’t Feel My Face” The Weeknd
My face felt fine but my knuckles had turned somewhere between the green of a lizard and the white of an Abominable Snowmonster. If I survived the trip, I felt like I needed to take a picture of it for posterity as no doubt I have invented some new side effect that a pharmaceutical company could tout as mild compared to having to bear a recently invented illness involving having a single negative thought pass through your brain in your life. But I was still upright and so far bearing a fairly decent trip through the wilds of this transportation jungle that was I-294.
1:44-1:49 “Cry Me A River“ Justin Timberlake
One could certainly do that when looking at how much the tolls were on this road. According to the directions I had printed up from three different websites, along with a GPS barking directions to me in a British accent for some inexplicable reason, I would have 4 to go through. Unfortunately, having again never taken any highway road for a long time anywhere near the city, I had no idea how much was currently on my I-Pass. At practically 2 dollars a toll, I only hoped my irrational highway fears were enough for me to be flush with funds for once in my life.
1:50-2:00 Commercial Break
Having now reached what was essentially the mid-way point of the trip, I assessed what had transpired. Apart from the taxi cab who was hell bent on becoming bumper car buddies, I had managed to make it through two interchange points without having to wildly veer over left at the last minute. I relaxed my kung fu grip on the steering wheel as I attempted to breath some kind of life back into my right knuckle. But having hit closer to the Chicago city proper, I knew my fear of becoming the meat of a semi sandwich was still very much alive.
2:01-2:05 “Uptown Funk” Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars
Indeed the funk had arrived as I could begin seeing more of the yellow taxis and indeterminate number of shuttle vans that seemingly appeared from vapor. Hitting the outer limits of the city, I was now forced to become the equivalent of a Secret Service vehicle protecting special cargo and a speed demon enjoying the Audoban as my speedometer crept past 75 in an effort to keep up with the traffic. How I thought I was ever going to survive this without being forced into a triple axle with a backwards flip is beyond me at this point.
2:06-2:10 “Stressed Out” Twenty One Pilots
It was apropos that a song with an artist with pilot in their name would come on as I could begin to see the faint outlines of the massive O’Hare airport I was barreling towards. But stressed I was as I made the final turn onto the last bit of highway before entering the grounds. I knew I was close, but the fact the finish line was so near caused me to think that it was merely the calm before the inevitable car crash as one green compact car decided at the last milisecond that maybe he too wanted to go see planes take off and land.
2:11-2:16 “Hello” Adele
Hearing the angel that was the queen of British soul greet me as I successfully made it into the airport proper was a short lived joy as I realized I had inadvertently gotten into the left most lane when the parking lot of my affection was on the right. Now I had to turn around near the International terminal to go back the way I came as I was literally on the other side of where I needed to be.
2:16-2:19 “Safe and Sound“ Capital Cities
Yes I was. And with three extra minutes to spare as I killed the British GPS and surveyed my surroundings. I was supposed to pull into a small parking area known as the cell phone lot. I wanted so much to call out to the heavens to celebrate my triumph over Chicago traffic but knew I would soon be needed over at the actual terminal. Of course though as I sat their idling for a moment before shutting off the car, it occurred to me.
2:19- “OMG” Usher
There was still the return trip.