If you didn’t catch my two previous articles, you missed some important information. We’ve discussed city etiquette including what to do and, more importantly, what not to do if you happen to find yourself in downtown Chicago — or any large city — especially at rush hour. This article is about your comfort, safety, and well-being.
Be aware and alert, holding your possessions close to your body for two reasons: so you won’t bump others with your bags or get bumped and also to deter thieves.
- Folks might ask you for money. Whether or not you decide to give is up to you; just be careful. Don’t let strangers peer into your wallet, and keep a tight grip on it.
- If someone looks or acts certifiable, they might be. If such a person approaches you or shouts at you, move away and do not make eye contact; do not take it personal and do not engage. Go on your way, enjoy yourself and forget about it. Don’t let one jerk spoil your city adventure.
- Obey your signal and also, if one is present, the traffic cop. It’s important to comply with “Chicago’s finest.”
- At any crowded scene, be suspicious of unattended bags and find someone to report it to. That said, sometimes activists or product promoters leave their stuff off to the side.
- Don’t be surprised if some very friendly person jumps in front of you with a merry “hello!” You probably don’t know each other. I’ll admit even I was fooled for a nanosecond the first time this happened to me. No, it’s very likely a volunteer campaigner/activist trying to get you to sign a petition or donate money. The strategy is rather annoying, but if you feel the cause is worthy, go for it if they’re legit.
It’s almost always noisy in a bustling city. Sirens and other sounds can be loud enough to damage hearing. Cover your ears, and don’t worry about what anybody thinks. Later when they’re hard of hearing, you’ll be glad you protected yours.
- You may find yourself in the South Loop campus neighborhood. A lot of rowdy people hang around some areas there, especially Pritzker Park and the Harold Washington Library (which truly is a great place), even blocking the sidewalk at times. Don’t let them deter you from your path; you have a right to walk there. There are also a lot of police in that area.
- Although Chicago is a beautiful and exciting city, there are some unsavory areas and stinky areas, even downtown. Simply pass through these quickly and don’t give it a second thought. Chicago is beautiful!
Welcome to the jungle! My next article in this series has more important ways to enjoy the big city safely and comfortably.