Home > Chicago, Rant, Shellie Lewis' Art > This is Not a Theme Park

This is Not a Theme Park

Tourist Season in downtown Chicago gets weird some times.  I try to be nice.  I try to be courteous.  I once guided some Montrealers to the Red Line subway.  I’ll give directions or restaurant recommendations as best I can.  Sometimes I flip on people who are too garish or rude to deal with.  Two map hugging gawkers once asked me in Chinatown where to find all the good bootleg purses and I told them “try Manhattan.”  I try not to facepalm when people in a museum want to get photographs of themselves next to decades or centuries old art works like they found a juggler at the beach, especially when they are doing things like “bunny ears for the Buddha statue” or “thumbs up” in front of the Renoir.  I grit my teeth and move on.

Then, I sometimes encounter some straight up out-of-town weirdness.

I was walking toward the Art Institute and was talking to a guy pushing a little boy in a stroller.  We were stopped at the light at the intersection of Michigan & Adams.  I asked if he was going to the museum.  There is a ramp at the entry way, but it is off to the side of the main stairs and I didn’t want him to have to haul the stroller up the stairs if he did not have to.  We were right on path towards the museum.  Also, it takes that light what feels like ten minutes to change so people can cross.  He said he was going over to The Bean, then he asked me how long I was in town.  I didn’t know what to say, so I said “I live here.”  Do people think Chicago is a theme park?  Does this look like Disneyland?  I have no idea where that question came from.  Do I need to scrounge up more of an Old Town accent?  I’m usually identified fine by the way I pronounce CHICK-Caw-Gohhh.  Or do people traveling think others in the area they are going through are there for the same reasons?

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