I know that I said that I would be offline till Monday, but I had to share a funny story from my last Chicago trip. It’s worth it! Oh, and by the way – thanks to my old HS friend Mrs. H for the Chicago driving head’s up. We will definitely re-plan our drive based on that info 🙂
So the last time I went to Chicago was in January 2004. I was going to go with a bunch of my friends from Purdue, and Chris and I had just started dating. Turns out that he had to go to Chicago the same weekend, so he asked if he could drive me. He wanted me to meet a good friend of his who lived up there, so we planned on driving up together, me hanging out with my friends for the day, and then him picking me up in the evening to head back to his friend’s parents house. This was fine, since it was Christmas break and most of my friends lived in Northern Indiana, anyway, and I would’ve had to drive to meet them regardless. So I headed back from home to Purdue a few days early so that Chris and I could drive together.
I was up early the morning of the trip. Chris was going to pick me up at like 7am or something like that so that we could meet my friends, and then he could continue on his way. We had just started dating, and when 7am rolled around and Chris wasn’t there, I was a little nervous. I didn’t want to be the nagging girlfriend, calling him up and whining, “Where are you?!”, so I decided to chill and started reading another chapter in “Great Expectations”. I was pretty engrossed in the book, so the next time I looked up was over 20 minutes later. OK – he was officially late! I called him up and he groggily answered the phone…
Chris – Hello….? (said in a sleepy, I’ve-just-woken-up, voice)
Me – Chris?
Chris – Yeah? Jenny?
Me – Um, yeah, sorry to bother you. Were you still planning to go to Chicago today?
Chris – Yeah. I’ll be over to pick you up around 7 o’clock? Why? What time is it? (Starts to become more alert)
Me – It’s 7:30 in the morning
Chris – (Background noises of “crash”, “umph”, and “bang”). I’ll be RIGHT THERE! Click.
Me – Ooookay…
Chris was at my house in less than 10 minutes with a huge apology. I was on the phone with my friends, and they were like, “Who is this guy that you’re dating that we’ve never met before who can’t be there on time to pick you up?” We met up with my friends about an hour later than the original time, and Chris was soooo apologetic and embarrassed over this somewhat less-than-perfect first meeting with them. We went our separate ways and I saw the museums with my friends.
It was getting close to the time that Chris was supposed to pick me up (I think around 4pm), so we headed to the pre-arranged meeting spot. It was me and my friends, who by the way apparently didn’t pick up on the fact that Chicago’s nickname “Windy City” means it gets really cold there in January. I was the only warmly dressed girl in our group of 5, and all of them had borrowed various articles of my clothing. I was currently without scarf, hat, or gloves! We kept waiting, waiting, and waiting for Chris. I kept calling him but he didn’t answer. Grrrr. My friends and I were starting to wonder about this guy… Finally, they told me that they had to leave in order to get back home in time, so they left me (and took my winter gear with them, too!). So I kept waiting and waiting. Finally, Chris shows up. Turns out that he never figured on the fact that Chicago and Indiana have a time difference, so he kept asking his friend (who is on Chicago time) what time it was and didn’t realize till just before he picked me up that he was, once again, over an hour late. His expression was so comical and he was so distressed that I couldn’t help but laugh and tease him.
So we get in the car and are driving to his friend’s parents’ house, and I’m like, “Why do I smell such a strong odor of gasoline in this car?” Silence, then, “Well…”
Turns out that after Chris had dropped me off, he stopped to get gas. Now you know from previous posts on this blog that Chris is a bit absent-minded and somewhat klutzy. This was another classic example. He put the pump in and locked it in place, then decided to wash his windshields. He stepped over the gasoline hose, and unfortunately didn’t quite make it. He ended up tripping, knocking the hose out of the car, and the lock didn’t release. In other words, gasoline was spraying all over the place. It got alllll over Chris and all over the pavement. He hit the emergency shut-off and went inside to tell the attendant, who was horrified at the amount of gas Chris had spilled. Poor Chris had to drive the rest of the way with really stinky, smelly, gasoline-soaked jeans which were burning the flesh on his upper thighs. As soon as he got to his friend’s house he had to wash and dry them like 5 times before he got the smell out, so basically the entire time that I was having fun with friends, he was doing laundry. Ha!
The rest of the weekend was really fun. His friend was great and a really good guy to be around. We had a blast. Saturday evening we got in the car to drive back to Indiana and just started chatting. I remember that at some point earlier in the trip Chris had pointed out the electronic compass in his car (he had gotten the car brand-new the year before as a graduation gift) and had talked about how handy it was. Apparently he wasn’t paying enough attention to it, because we got really lost. I think we drove through South Holland, IL like 3 times and I thought to myself, “If I see those praying hands on the water tower one more time (a South Holland landmark, apparently), I’m going to make him pull over and get behind the wheel myself!”
We finally got out of Chicago and were headed in what we thought was the right direction. I wasn’t paying too much attention because I was basically talking and getting to know Chris (we’d only been dating for about 3 weeks). Unfortunately, he wasn’t paying much attention, either. I started to see signs that made me think, “Umm, I think we’re headed in the wrong direction”, but I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to crush his pride any more than it already had been. Finally, I saw a sign for Michigan City, which is waaaay up north in Indiana (Purdue is in the Central Western part of Indiana). I quickly pointed out to Chris that we were driving the wrong way. He and I kind of chuckled about it, like, “Well, what else would you expect given how crazy this trip has been?!” He made some comment like, “At least we figured it out before we made it all the way to Michigan!” I kid you not, less than a minute after he said those words, we saw a big “Welcome to Michigan!” sign and crossed the state border. Ai yi yi.
We turned around and I made Chris let me take the wheel. I ended up driving all way the way from Michigan back to Purdue that night, and I think Chris may have dozed off at some point during the drive. I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t understand how someone who was so smart (he finished his BA and MA together in 4 years during undergrad and was working on his PhD at Purdue… I mean, that’s gotta count for something, right???) could make so many comical blunders in just 2 short days! It ended up making for a really good story and my family and his love to hear it. I later learned that this wasn’t the first time that Chris had driven in the completely wrong direction for long periods of time without ever figuring it out. Thankfully, since we’ve been married, his sense of direction has greatly improved 🙂
Okay, so that was a long story, but I love telling it. I hope you enjoyed reading it!