Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Great Imperialist

Three young women stand huddled on the corner of State and Jackson in downtown Chicago. The middle one holds a cell phone. They all stare at the screen.

“Excuse me,” the middle one says to me as I pass. I can tell she’s about to ask me for directions. I’m flattered. I’m always flattered when pedestrians look past my crippledness and ask me for directions. It shows that they think I look like the type of guy who knows his way around, even though I’m crippled. It gives me hope for humanity.

The middle one says, “Can you tell us how to find Starbucks?"

It just so happens that I’m an expert on that subject: Starbucks locations in downtown Chicago.

“Well,” I say, “there’s one across the street in Barnes & Noble.”

I live on the edge of downtown Chicago. When I sit on my shower chair in my bathtub, if my bathroom door and kitchen blinds are open, I can see the logo on the Starbucks across the street. There’s nowhere to hide!

“Or,” I say, "If you go one block east to Wabash, there’s another one there.”

The thing I really hate most about Starbucks is that they’re all so goddam wheelchair accessible. I wish I could find one, just one, that isn’t accessible so I could sue the hell out of them!

“Or,” I say, "If you go one block north to Adams, there’s another one there.”

My burning desire to sue Starbucks is as fierce as my burning desire to sue a casino. Except my motivations are different. Suing a casino would bring me the same satisfaction as kicking a big, brash bully right square in the balls. Suing a Starbucks would bring me the same satisfaction as tripping a prom queen— just to show everybody that she’s not such a perfect little princess. That's the same reason I want to sue Disneyland.

“Or,” I say, "If you go three blocks north to Macy’s, there are two more in there.”

But I guess if I want to sue Starbucks, I’ll have to spill a hot drink on myself.

“Or,” I say, "If you go a half a block from Macy’s ---”

“That's all right!” the middle woman says. “We’ll go to the one across the street. Thank you.” The light turns green and they hustle off.

But wait a minute! I was just getting warmed up.

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