To travel to my Aunt and Uncle’s house, the place where I’d be staying for the next few days, I had to take a train into Chicago then take another train south of Chicago to Hammond, Indiana. The train that went straight to Hammond didn’t allow bikes on the train, so I went to Harvey. My Aunt told me that Harvey is a rough neighborhood. I didn’t mind it. The roads were smooth enough.
I needed to bike fifteen miles from Harvey to Hammond. That distance usually takes me less than an hour to traverse, but I spent two and a half hours in the rain looking for Gibson Road. I was lost. I saw most of East Chicago, a Chicago suburb driven by factories, a city filled with smoke stacks, railroad tracks, and people that don’t know the location of Gibson road. I passed the same gas station three times. Finally, after reviewing things, I realized that I took a wrong turn on Kennedy. I bike sprinted back towards Kennedy. I was excited. I was on the home stretch. I was really hustling. It was raining. I crossed some railroad tracks; the tire slipped on the wet track; and I bit the dust.
A car stopped behind me, as I lay in the road trying to gather myself. A guy jumped out of the car and ran up to me.
“Are you okay, man?” he asked. “You really biffed it.”
I nodded my head and thanked him for stopping.
“Yeah, man. I didn’t want anyone to run you over. I mean, you went down hard. It looked like you could have killed yourself.” The guy was animated, jumping around in the street, waving his arms.
I was okay, scratched my ankle, scratched my shoulder. I biked to my Aunt and Uncle’s house. They had spaghetti and meat sauce and garlic bread waiting for me on the stove. That was nice. I dig warm food. I took a shower and went to bed, the first bed since South Dakota.
The next morning, I had that interview. That was my first real interview. I’ll say it went well. We talked about the bike trip for most of it. I was wearing khakis, a collared, short-sleeve, striped shirt, no belt, no tie. I wore my dirty-ass running shoes that I’d been using for cycling. So needless to say: I looked dapper. I parted my hair.
On my way back to Hammond, I walked Chicago for a bit. Taste of Chicago was happening. It’d be real expensive to actually taste all of Chicago, even during taste of Chicago. Restaurants set food stands in the park and sold tastes for two to four tickets or full dishes for eight to twelve tickets. Tickets came in bunches of twelve for eight bucks. I thought it’d be more economical if I blew all twelve tickets on popcorn shrimp with mango flavored fries. And it was a wise choice.
Uncle Kirby and I chilled when I got back to Hammond. We watched some TV, drank some beer. I fell asleep around seven. I woke up the next day around one. Uncle Kirby and Aunt Deborah and I chilled some more. Uncle Kirby grilled chicken. It was tasty. He called it, “Burnt, Dead Chicken.” One of his specialties. It was really nice to stay with them, nice to chill.
The next day, I would have to bike through Chicago because bikes aren’t allowed on the trains during The Taste, so I wouldn’t be able to take a train through. The Aunt and Uncle and figured out a good route. Also, they gave me a bunch of food to take with me, deodorant, and a knife. I was prepared for famine, body odor, and muggings.