You remember Maxwell Street, right? That special outdoor bazaar was located in the near west area just outside the Chicago Loop. I went to visit my buddy Stanley- you know, the one who got arrested years ago by Chicago cops? Yeah, that guy. I needed a bicycle part and that’s what he now sells. I asked how was business going and he said okay but that he had to work harder than ever and wondered if it was worth it.
So, I got about to asking him what was the best job he ever had. “that’s easy”, he replied, “Maxwell Street.” I asked him if he had more time to elaborate and he said, “why not?”
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Almost thirty years ago Stanley was thirty pounds lighter and better able to get away with doing things than he can now. This included squeezing through a turnstile at the top of a set of stairs on an elevated transit train platform in the Chicago Loop without paying the fare. Mind you, in 1982, it cost two quarters to make the turnstile roll. Being in his very early twenties, Stanley figured that it was no harm to cheat a little if he could.
He got away with it more often than he could count except for that one time when he was accompanied by a co-worker from the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office. It also helps to mention that his co-worker friend Otis had a permanent tan which was one social strike against him to no fault of his own.
The moment that the two of them made it to the El platform, a little burly fellow about 5 feet 6 inches tall weighing 180 lbs came rushing out of nowhere and tackled Otis. At first, Stanley thought it was a racist thug who had too much to drink. However, within a minute, the little guy was putting handcuffs on Otis while another plainclothes officer came forward to assist dragging the poor fellow back down the stairs to a waiting squad car.
Continue reading “Pride and Prejudice”