My fellow cabbies, from Arabs and Nigerians to Serbs and Koreans and Mexicans are killing time at Chicago OHare airport waiting lot. An area as big if not bigger than a football field that’s surrounded by take off and landing fields in which hundreds of taxis await their turn to drive to the terminals and pick up fat fares. With its barb wire borders, planes that screech over the head, the small greasy spoon and prayer room, the walkie talkie holding employee’s small compound, surveillance cameras, seventies style announcement megaphones, and a horizon that is as vacant as eye can see, this place has always felt like some kind of refugee camp to me. On warm summer evenings, Muslims spread massive rugs and perform group prayers and sleep deprived drivers nap in back seats and Somalians play soccer and from Iranians to Russians, they roam around converse with their native tongues and at nights, gamblers play cards in their cabs and sometimes while passing through the line of cars, I can smell fine Moroccan hash. For years, once I arrive at this desert caravan, after having a sandwich or a bowl of lentils, I get in the back seat and practice my accordion chops. About ten years ago, on my first day, I hectically dropped someone off at this airport and barely managed to find my way here by following other cabs. Since then, waiting in this hidden limbo has been amongst my most pleasant hours.
Chicago – Fall 2014