Monday, November 25, 2019

I Nearly Got Trampled To Death

We were on our way back from catching the 2pm showing of Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre early Saturday night when we noticed that the crowd on Michigan Avenue was starting to bottleneck. I thought that perhaps there was a pre-pre-Black Friday deal going on at Lush or something. Why else would there be dump trucks blocking the through-ways? As we attempted to cross Michigan Avenue via Chicago Avenue, we found that the street had been blocked for the Christmas Tree lighting parade. Yet another example of people jumping the gun on Christmas and trying to decorate before the Thanksgiving leftovers are cold.

At this point, we had two choices: settle in somewhere until the parade was over or try to find a way around Michigan Avenue. I had remembered that the nice lady that we had met at the Starbucks Roastery had mentioned that the Du Sable bridge south of the Magnificent Mile would be closed, so I knew that there would be little chance of us going South to cut over. But, perhaps we could get to lower Wacker drive via one of the Michigan Avenue stairwells. With that in mind, we pressed on South. And it could have been a fatal mistake.

The further South we pushed, the denser the crowd got in both population and intellect. What kind of idiot parent carts their kid around in a wagon through a dense crowd? What kind of parent thinks that they can let their kid run wild through that same crowd? What kind of moronic blogger thinks he and his girlfriend can successfully navigate this kind of human sea?

The northmost access stairwell under Michigan had been closed, but I still had hopes that the southmost one, just North of the Du Sable bridge would be open. The two of us pressed on until the crowd bottle-necked to a stop. We were packed shoulder-to-shoulder like passengers on a Tokyo subway car. And then the crowd suddenly lurched forward and I tripped over a stroller wheel or a wagon wheel or something and I went down. I managed to stick my wrist out in order to save myself from completely face-planting. For about two seconds, images of my death via crowd trampling flashed through my brain. The headline "Old Man Crushed By Indifferent Crowd" seemed to have a particular ring to it. But, thankfully, a number of hands grabbed me, set me up right, brushed my back clean and didn't attempt to steal my wallet. Thank God for Chicagoans. If this had been New York City, my entrails would be been dragged across the Five Burroughs without anyone giving it a second thought. We pressed on, with the waning hope that the stairwell would be our salvation.

When we got in sight of the Lower Wacker Drive stairwell, it appeared to be blocked and I didn't see anyone moving down it. We ducked into the lobby of a building close by in the hopes that the elevator would be able to take us down to a lower level. No luck. On our way back out, we met a frazzled woman who was frantic about getting out of this mess. She said that she thought she could see heads moving down the Lower Wacker Drive stairwell, but wasn't sure that she could push through the crowd. The mere prospect of being able to get free was good enough for me to try. But, what to do to clear the crowd?

I told the woman that she was with us and that she should grab my girlfriend's hand and follow behind us. I started yelling as I approached the stairwell "I have a pregnant woman in labor! Clear the way!". Our new friend took the cue and started huffing and puffing while holding her stomach. This was enough to part the crowd and we managed to get to the stairwell which was filled to overflowing with people trying to get up. I spat forth more exclamations of an impending birth and that got us enough room to squeeze through the throng, placing us safely below Michigan so that we could cross under it and head East. We bade farewell to our fellow crowd swimmer and got the hell out of there.

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