Leader Of The Pack


It was the right decision for me to make, but I still found it bothersome. I opted out of an adventure into the City last night. Generally when I travel and have the opportunity to sightsee, I’m up long before most of the world knows it is morning and I don’t slow down until way past my ordinary bedtime. I don’t want to miss anything.

Several in our group have bemoaned the fact that although for all intents and purposes we are in Chicago, we really haven’t been in Chicago. Last night was the one opportunity for our group to catch the City lights and explore the sights and sounds. Historically, I would never turn down that kind of opportunity. In addition, I’d do what I could to attempt to assert myself as the leader of the pack.

A couple of years ago when we were in the same location, I did what I could to orchestrate a walking tour of the City. Did I mention there are folks who don’t enjoy walking? Consequently, the evening turned into a mixture of walking and cab rides. It’s not that I’m frugal, but I’d prefer to walk if you’re only traveling a couple of miles. By the way, I don’t always get it my way. Actually, the only way to guarantee that is to travel alone. Since I’m fairly people needy, that at times poses a problem.

After the architectural tour of the City by boat, we opted to go to dinner. The meal was great, the conversation was good, but the dinner hour turned into three and we needed to get back to Union Station. Our group was too large to all fit in one taxi. I looked at the other two guys and said, “Lets walk”. If they were telling the story, they would say I told them it was only about three blocks to Union Station.

As it turned out, they would say it was closer to three miles. I don’t think that’s right either, but in the midst of our walk the other two guys were experiencing a sense of panic that we might miss the last train out of Chicago. Consequently, they started attempting to flag down a taxi. I kept saying, “Walk”. They continued to walk backwards waving at oncoming taxis that were filled with passengers.

My proclamation that we were almost there seemed to fall on deaf ears. Finally a taxi stopped for us. The newly self-appointed leader of the pack asked the driver, “Can you get us to Union Station quickly?” He added, “We have to catch a train.” The taxi driver looked at us like we were nuts and said, “Sure”.

Of course we were nuts! The taxi driver knew that for two reasons. To start with, “Why would anyone go to Union Station for any other reason than to catch a train?” Secondly, the taxi driver drove about a forth of a block and turned right. He then pulled over and stopped. We were at Union Station.

Last night was an opportunity to create a new memory and have more stories, but I opted out. Later as I reflected on the missed opportunity of my choosing, I asked myself, “Why?” The decision was uncharacteristic. “If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch”, came to mind. I immediately discounted that as an explanation. I may be in denial, but I think I could walk circles around most of the group.

I’ve heard the expression, “If your feet hurt, you hurt all over.” I think the same could be said of your eyes. At least that’s been my experience this week. Actually, it is probably true that any sensation of pain moves your focus to the discomfort and interrupts fair play and openness for adventure.

So how did I spend my evening? I went back to the same restaurant where I had dinner on Monday night. I looked at the menu and intuitively wanted the grilled salmon again. How boring is that? I asked the waitress what she’d recommend. She asked, “Do you like spicy food?” Indicating that I did, she recommended the Carne Asada with Tequila sauce. Just for the record, I ordered mine with salt (that was a joke).

The meal added a whole new concept to the word spicy. Maybe I should rethink eating spicy food? It was tasty, but it was hot. I drank about eight glasses of water with my meal. Walking back to the restaurant from the hotel, I momentarily regretted having forfeited the Chicago City experience. At the same time, my eye(s) hurt and warm compresses were in order. Consequently, I had made the most responsible decision.

This morning, I asked myself, “What life lesson can I draw out of the experience?” The answer seemed to be, “Time goes by quickly. Missed opportunities don’t often resurface. Now is the only time we have. Grasp the day and make the most of it.”

The very thought has put a renewed spring in my step. I’m off and running.

All My Best!



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