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This past summer I was in a neighborhood of Chicago called Uptown to see an old friend. If you’re not familiar with the city, Uptown is a cute, almost suburban like subsection – a much quieter, laid back area than neighborhoods like Lincoln Park, Old Town, or Wrigleyville.
Uptown lays claim to a few decent jazz venues, and this friend of mine that I was to be seeing just happens to live out there and enjoys jazz as much as I do. So one warm Saturday night in July, I took two buses from my apartment on the west side of the city to meet her.
Normally I would take an Uber or Lyft, but the thought of riding in a cab with a driver who wanted to talk about Donald Trump for 25 minutes put me off, plus it was a beautiful night out and I just felt like taking the bus.
It took me just over 45 minutes to get there, and by the time I had gotten off, my phone was at a dangerous 3% battery life. I shouldn’t have been scrolling Twitter as much as I did on the bus ride there, but I was bored. I don’t have a better excuse.
Why I neglected to get a full charge before leaving my house is beyond me, but those are the breaks sometimes. The problem with complete reliance on your phone is that when it shuts down and you don’t have access to a charger, the world you once were living in turns completely upside down.
It may be hard to believe, but I was wearing a very sensible outfit as I looked at my surroundings and watched my iPhone 5SE finally turn off for good. The fact that I was dressed in khakis, a t-shirt, and a windbreaker will be important in a moment.
Already running ten minutes late, I knew that if I wasn’t able to get to my destination quickly enough, my friend would probably pack up and leave the jazz club after seeing that I wasn’t responding to text messages or phone calls. I tried hailing a cab in front of the bus stop where I was standing like a complete buffoon, but every one of them seemed to have their light off, and I couldn’t remember the name of the jazz club where I was to be meeting her. I had been relying completely upon the fact that my friend had texted me the name, and I thought that when I was getting off of the bus I could just copy and paste that text message into Google Maps.
I knew the stop that I had gotten off the bus at was about a mile from the bar where I was to meet my friend, but I had no idea which direction to go in to get to this place and I decided a long time ago that I would refuse to learn street names as long as google maps was still in existence.
With no more time to lose, I started heading towards what looked like the main drag of Uptown. The first group of people I saw were some teens in a gas station parking lot. They were doing kickflips and smoking cigarettes, and as I walked up to them with a smirk on my face I could tell that this was not going to be a pleasant encounter. They stopped what they were doing as soon as they realized that I was coming up to talk to them and not to go into the gas station a few feet in front of me.
“Hey guys, I’m looking for a jazz club around here that I’m supposed to be meeting my friend at. Any chance you could point me in the right direction?”
A cacophony of laughter erupted from the chain smoking teens staring at me. “HAHAHAHA! I don’t know any jazz, man. Why don’t you go back to Wicker Park where you came from? HAHAHAHAHA!”
The fact that they knew which neighborhood I lived in rattled me more than I can describe in words. My face was an elegant, rosy shade of red at this point. I started to feel sweat on my brow and all I could do was laugh and try to play it off like I was one of them.
Teens have an uncanny ability to roast their peers and elders. Their commentary is always spot on and biting in a way that is equal parts cruel, intelligent, and hilarious. I used to be just like these teens. My eyes wandered down towards my khaki pants and my Wallabee Clarks and I realized exactly how washed I was.
I mean for a sensible 25-year-old man like myself, yeah those Wallabee Clarks, khaki pants, t-shirt, and a Patagonia windbreaker is a nice outfit. Something that would absolutely work inside of a jazz club filled with people in their 20s and 30s. But in front of a bunch of crusty teens wearing Supreme tees and Vans? I knew I was done for.
“Listen I realize that I look like a narc, alright? I think it’s like this kind of old-timey club? I can’t for the life of me remember the name of it.”
“Bruh are you trying to kidnap us or something? Get the hell away from me. We’re not even from here we’re just waiting for our ride home. There’s plenty of other white middle aged men you could ask for directions. Jesus Christ.”
“Yeah, alright alright.”
At this point I didn’t know what to do. I walked away dejected, feeling old as fuck, and strolled into the gas station. I asked the guy behind the counter if I could use his phone charger and after about ten minutes it had enough juice for me to call my friend at the bar.
“Listen, I’m really sorry about this but I’ve got to go home. I’m not feeling so hot and I can’t even remember the name of the place I was supposed to meet you at.
“Green Mill. I mean I just got here like ten minutes ago, but alright. Rain check. Feel better.”
Teenagers are menacing individuals, and it’s why nowadays whenever I see a pack of them on the street I keep my head down. I know better now and so should you. I don’t speak, and I definitely don’t make eye contact with them. Teens rule the world, and I pray that none of you reading this ever has to endure a roast like the one that I did on that fateful night in July..
Image via Unsplash