We’ve all heard the saying: Chicago has two seasons, winter and road construction. Sad but true. Just as I was beginning to enjoy spring, I drove past an ominous sign on my street, Des Plaines Avenue: “Road Construction Begins 5/5.”
I don’t believe in hell, but if it did exist it would surely consist of being stuck in traffic on a highway with never-ending construction and nothing but bad music on the radio. I decided this back when I spent a lot of time traveling between Chicago and Madison, Wis., a journey that should only take two hours, but during road construction season, well.
I’ve made an addendum to my idea of hell. When you finally get off that highway and arrive at your house you will find road construction going on outside of it. My notes on the first few days of project “Putting America Back to Work” on Des Plaines Avenue detail the forms of torture you can expect.
Day One: No sign of construction equipment. Just as I’m beginning to believe that the project was miraculously canceled … jackhammers. Concentration on the story I’m writing is ruined. I complain about it on Twitter. Someone suggests writing at the library or a local coffee shop. The library is also along the construction route. Why don’t I live closer to Blue Max?
Day Two: Notice from village about the construction that started yesterday. Apparently no one can agree on how to spell Des Plaines Avenue. On the village Web site it’s Desplaines, in the notice it’s DesPlaines, on the street sign it’s Des Plaines. I spell it the last way, and since the village can’t seem to decide, I conclude that I’m right, especially since GoogleMaps backs me up.
I mentally re-route my way to work, my mom’s house, etc. to avoid Des Plaines. I’m pleased with myself. I can deal with this construction thing.
Then, right as I’m about to do laundry, I discover the water has been shut off. The notice didn’t say anything about that! I call the village and politely explain that I’d like to speak to someone because I live on Des Plaines Avenue and my water …
The woman who answers the phone angrily snaps that a water main broke. Clearly, she’s been getting lots of phone calls.
I calmly reply that I know it’s not her fault.
“It’s no one’s fault!” she barks.
Wow, I guess now is not the time to ask how Des Plaines is really spelled or point out that it seems extremely coincidental that the street is under construction and a water main broke.
Day Three: I worked at the bar until 2 a.m. Due to my insomnia, I didn’t fall asleep until 4 a.m. The jackhammers started promptly at 7:30. You can imagine how I feel about this.
Day Four and Onward into Eternity (Or the 45 Days the Project is Supposed to Take, Weather Permitting): Writing and sleeping schedules are continually disturbed by loud, terrible noises. What they are actually doing to the street is mysterious. I figured they’d be repaving the whole thing, but it appears they’re just patching holes. I could call and find out, but I’d rather watch the process unfold. They’ve ripped up part of our parkway. If they replace it with sod that might be the one silver lining of this project, since it was all weeds before. Yeah, I know, there will be a nice, smooth, new road. But it won’t last. In a few years the construction crew will be back.
Jackson and Harvard, beware, they’re coming for you next!
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.