Man, oh man! The Polar Vortex has official arrived and turned Chicago into Chiberia. Last week Chicago was hit with layers of snow and bone chilling, below zero temperatures that put Chicagoans back into their yearly winter blues. It is the only time of year you will catch Chicagoans hating on their own city, and pretty much everything else in life. Luckily for me, I’m writing this in 70 degree California weather while my home girl Ariel and the rest of my family and friends are back home freezing to death. As I am beyond grateful to not be out there suffering with everyone else, my heart goes out to Chicagoans because the winter will drive you CRAZY. For those who are blessed to not know what life in an arctic tundra is like, here are some the worst things, to give you an idea. Trust us, the winter is not always pretty.
Waiting for the CTA
Whether it’s for the train or the bus, there is nothing worse than waiting for public transportation during the winter. The CTA is a part of the Chicago lifestyle and is a means of transportation for a lot of people. The trains and buses are dependable for the most part, but they definitely have their moments where you want to pull your hair out and scream at someone. So imagine having to go through this in 6 inches of snow, 7 mph wind chill, and below zero weather. Even with the help of CTA Tracker (one of the best Chicago apps out there), it will still feel like you are waiting for 500 years because you’re just SO DAMN COLD! Don’t even bother with those weak ass heat lamps because it will only discourage you; they are no match for the Chicago winter.
The Wind aka “The Hawk”
Chicago got the name The Windy City, not for its wind, but because of its back and forth politics that blows like the wind. In fact, Chicago is not the windiest city in the United States, but it sure as hell feels like it. Because Chicago is directly on Lake Michigan, we get hit with a killer lake-effect that makes our weather feel windier and colder. Many times you’ll hear black folks from the old school Chicago generation call the winter wind “The Hawk” because it’s so cold and harsh that when it hits your face it feels like you’re being clawed by a hawk. Actually, there really isn’t much evidence of its origin, but this is what I was told and from personal experience it sounds about right. That “Hawk” will leave your face red, numb, cracked, dry and in tears. No lie.
If this list were in any particular order, black ice would easily land at number one or two along with potholes being one of them. Black ice is no ordinary ice. It is a special evil kind of ice that blends in perfectly with the ground so that you never know it’s there. That means busting your shit on a regular basis in front of everyone. As embarrassing as it is to fall in front of people, don’t trip (no pun). Falling due to black ice is exempt from all jokes. People may laugh, but they also feel your pain because they either: a) had an equally embarrassing fall, or b) know that their time is coming.
Whatever. Call us bougie, but unshoveled sidewalks are so damn annoying. It’s so difficult getting to the train, bus, class or your car when you have to march through piles of snow. If you’re a pro and know different techniques like stepping in already made foot prints or walking in the street, then it might not be as difficult, but it’s still annoying.
After the first snowfall is done being all clean, fluffy, and pretty, it turns into slush–dirty, wet, old snow. Not only does slush make Chicago look so ugly and dirty, but your favorite boots as well, especially when salt is added to the mix. Don’t EVER think about wearing suede boots during the winter because they will only get stained and ruined. Lord knows how many boots that didn’t make it to next year. RIP.
Having a Car
People think having a car during the winter should make things easier in life, but it can really be a bitch. Not only do you need to prepare yourself for the winter, but your car as well. You need to make sure that the heat is working, the defrost is full, the tires are on point, and you have all the proper winter supplies to clean your car. Not only will your car be covered in snow, it will also have a layer of ice underneath that formed on your doors and windows. If your tires are bad it will have you swerving all over the place or stuck in the snow. Let’s be real though, majority of us never really do all the proper preparations for our cars and it has bitten us in the ass. Believe me, I’ve used a hairbrush to remove snow off my car and I got cut by ice. My heater once stopped working and ice formed inside my car windows. And last but not least, my tires got me stuck in snow that I had to leave my car parked half way in the middle of the street overnight because I couldn’t get a tow truck until the next morning. Don’t be like me.
Winter mornings are so depressing. For one, you do not want to get out of bed and face that cold. Two, there is barely any sunlight to get your day going. Mornings are grey and the coldest part of the day. Having to wake up early already sucks to begin with and it sucks even more during the winter. You have to time everything accordingly and add extra time because of snow. And you wonder why people are so grouchy during the winter?
No Off Days
There are times when Chicago gets hit with insane blizzards and with snow that reach up to your calves and it still wont be an acceptable excuse to call off work or school. The show always goes on in Chicago. It is something that people think you should just accept which doesn’t make any sense. However with the “winter blues” comes the “fuck it” side effect where you’ll reach your breaking point and really do not give a fuck.
Not Looking Cute
Some cities are lucky enough to have those moderate temperatures where you can bundle up and still look winter chic. Well not in Chicago. In the beginning of the winter you might get the chance to wear a cutesy coat but after a good two weeks it will be time to pull out the heavy duty North Face. I remember one comedian once joked saying that you can’t just buy any old coat for Chicago, you HAVE to buy a specialty coat made for Chicago to face the winter. Seriously. After a certain point you won’t care about looking cute. So what if you can’t move your limbs from all that layering; at least you’ll be warm and toasty.
Last but not least, the worst thing to happen to drivers in the winter are the potholes. It is crazy how many potholes form in the streets during the winter due to the salt/snow combo. Driving in the streets is almost like a game of Mario Kart, swerving and dodging the holes. And man does it hurt your soul accidentally driving over one. You will need to pray to the car Gods that your wheels didn’t get fucked up.
I know it’s been about 40 degrees and everyone is rejoicing like it’s Summertime Chi, but let’s not forget, Chicago has a way of playing tricks on us. Hang in there and stay warm Chicago!