Nothing brings Chicagoans together quite like winter.
We know it comes every year, at the same time each year, but that doesn't stop us from complaining about the cold, and the snow, and the ice. Ask any Chicagoan how we can stand to live here and deal with winter and we'll likely say that we live for summer. It's the very thought of summer in Chicago that keeps us going all winter long.
On any given winter day, you'll see people out on street corners or on train platforms, dressed in layer upon layer waiting for a bus or train in the cold, snow and wind. Why? Because Chicagoans are made of tough stuff, wear big puffy coats with finesse, and can take the cold - no matter what. I mean, did you see the stands at yesterday's Bears game with temperatures in the single digits?
Winters brings us together in cold, shivering misery like nothing else - as was the case the other night for me and my family as we waited on a CTA "L" platform in 18 F degree weather.
Thank goodness for heat lamps
With the next CTA "L" train not due in for another five, freezing-cold minutes, all four of us beelined for the heat lamps at the top of the stairs. We huddled together at one end to stay as warm as humanly possible.
Just as the heat began to warm our cold hands and feet, my husband kindly called out to a man nearby to come under the heat lamps, cheerfully saying, "there's plenty of room for everyone." The man gratefully joined us, striking up a happy conversation with us about the cold, of course. And, it just grew from there.
In groups of one and two, more and more people joined our motley crew under the heat lamp. A young couple headed downtown for a night on the town. A man heading home after work. A woman busy texting her friends. And, my husband and I and our two sons off to an event downtown.
Fortified with heat - and happiness
We were all headed in different directions with different plans for the evening. But, we were all united together, squeezed in as close as possible under a lone heat lamp at the top of a CTA "L" platform.
Everyone was cordial. Everyone was happy. Everyone was a bit chilly - but slowly warming up under the radiant heat. And, I couldn't help but grin just thinking about how we were all randomly brought together on a cold, winter night in Chicago.
As the next "L" train rumbled towards us, we all broke away, bid a silent adieu to each other, and our mini warm urban oasis, and were off on our own merry ways.
Nothing brings Chicagoans together like winter - and the chance to warm up under a CTA "L" platform heat lamp on a cold evening.
With the first official day of winter not until December 21, I'm sure (and rather hopeful) that the same scenario will repeat itself on CTA "L" train platforms (and many other warm spots) across the city again and again all winter long.
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