Around midnight, in front of one of those west side night clubs that’s the hang out spot of mainly Latino immigrants, who on weekends change from work uniforms to slick gear and either hand in hand with their lovers or in search of love join forces here, I dropped someone off. West side of chicago doesn’t have as much taxi demand and I usually come back empty. Before Getting on the ramp, someone who was standing at the bus stop waved at me. He looked like a street hustler and I hesitated for a moment. But I quickly overcame my doubt and picked him up. After all, all these years, my worst and most disrespectful passengers have been the rich privileged kids and not the working class west siders. In my experience, the bus stop taxi hailers are either so intoxicated that they can’t even remember their address or their hurry has conquered their pockets. Victor, rocking a Chicago accent, and a touch of whiskey under his breath, wasn’t going far. He gave the address of a local hospital and we got going. He had one of those raspy voices that had the stamp of a streetwise and it seemed that half of his vocal cords were on vacation. He said his uncle’s lungs have collapsed and he was in special care. His uncle has been struggling with lung cancer and treatments haven’t been successful. He was in serious condition and his family were gathering in the hospital tonight. When we got there, I asked him if his uncle has a chance to survive. He said: I doubt it. We want to be with him so he doesn’t go all alone. He took out a cigarette and put it between his lips. He said: This is what fucked him up. I said I hope whatever the outcome he doesn’t suffer much. As he was getting out, I called him and said: Do you have one of those cigarette for me man?
Chicago – Summer 2014