I recall the exact moment when the GPS read “5 minutes to Chicago Avenue.” Amazed, I watched as the first skyscrapers came into view. Never in my wildest dreams could I imagine a city of such magnitude. It was hard to believe that just a mere twelve hours earlier we were leaving Richland, a small town in the heart of Missouri. Chicago sure wasn’t like home. Home to me is where everyone knows my name, and always greets me with a hearty wave. Needless to say, the big city was a major culture change for me. As we came closer and closer to the city, the buzz of reckless drivers escalated. Cars were zooming in and out of lanes, laying on their horns, and flying down the road. I didn’t understand their hurry when there was so much to see. Buildings towered over me and people crowded the streets. My eyes never ran out of things to watch.
After we got settled in our hotel, we put on our best outfits and left for dinner. As we were walking down the Michigan Mile, heading for the cheesecake factory, a man stopped me and asked for some change. Never before had I been so close to a homeless man. He spoke with humility, and in his eyes I saw no happiness. He told me all he needed was enough for something to eat. People walked by in disgust as I filled his dirty hands with coins. Then, more than ever, I realized how cruel people could be. There I was, in a city full of fancy cars and luxurious condos, and in streets filled with miserable people, who would be happy with a dollar. As the night went on, I focused on enjoying the city, and pushed all my sympathy in the back of my mind.
The next day was filled with sightseeing. First we went up in one of the tallest buildings of the world, the Willis Tower. The view was absolutely breathtaking; I will never forget the thrill that comes from being on top of the city. Next, we went to Millennium Park and saw Cloud Gate, or “The Bean.” I saw myself looking back in the mirrored surface, with the skyline of Chicago behind me. My reflection proved I looked as astonished as I felt. To finish the day off, we would head to Navy Pier and watch the fireworks over the lake. I recall walking down the busy sidewalk, and noticing how no one wore a smile on their face. Most people carried shopping bags, and rapidly made their way to the next hectic store.
I leisurely walked on, little did I know I was about to experience the single most frightening moment of my life; a taxi ride. I remember being powered back as the speed kept inching up and up, squeezing through cars, and rapidly trying to catch every yellow light. When we reached our destination, I high tailed out of that cab as fast as I could. I couldn’t believe how our driver could be so careless; it was as if all he was concerned about was getting our money and picking up his next costumer.
This trip has opened my eyes wide to the misfortune of others, both poor and wealthy. I pray for those who are fooled into believing money creates happiness. I pray for those who wake up in a world of uncertainty. I pray for those who never see the beauty that surrounds them. I do not pray for coins, I pray for change.
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