I never expected cheese curds to be the thing that restored my faith in humanity, but, alas, they did, at least at the end of this one particular day….
Our trip to Chicago in 2021 did not start off in my favor. For starters, my husband and I were taking our first kid free trip in two years.
I had visions of early nights of sitting in front of the TV binge watching Ted Lasso and the Olympics while eating takeout after a long day of sightseeing and activities. I had dreams of sleeping in and wandering around our AirBNB still in our pajamas. I had fantasies of no messes to clean up, nothing to tidy, and being as loud as we wanted.
But there was just one problem - Denise.
The problem wasn’t with Denise herself. She was a lovely middle aged lady who had interests in artwork and dogs. She belonged to a tennis league and had an active social life where she frequently rode her scooter to said social events. Denise was an orderly person who enjoyed every item in her house to have a home. She was a fine lady. Some may even say an upstanding individual. No, the problem wasn’t with Denise at all.
The problem was that Denise was there. On a trip where I was looking forward to spending time with just James, we now had a third. One, me. Two, James. And three, Denise. Denise rented the AirBNB in which we were staying, and surprise, Denise was staying too.
Unfortunately unbeknownst to me, I had booked a shared AirBNB stay from Denise, and Denise would be there - sharing a bathroom, kitchen, common area, and almost a bedroom since our bedroom looked right into Denise’s bedroom, and she kept the blinds and window open.
1 point against Humanity.
Two days into the trip, I was trying to make the most of our less than favorable accommodations, and, in fact, after a lovely morning stroll along the Chicago River, I became once again optimistic about the days that lay ahead.
Later that particular day, we were renting a car to Milwaukee where we would take in the cheese and beers of the city followed by a Brewers game in the evening and topped off with the creme de la creme of the getaway - not only a kid-free night in a hotel, but a Denise-free night in a hotel.
“We have plenty of time, but let’s make our way to our rent-a-car, so we can get to the city early enough before the game to explore,” I said to James.
Up until this point, we had only taken the Brown Line to and from our destinations. This time we had to take the Blue Line and transfer to the Brown Line. Simple enough.
I’ve always said about reality dating shows like - The Bachelor and The Ultimatum - that if you truly want to test a couple’s strength, have them navigate their way around an unknown city.
After awhile our dialogue with one another shifted from pleasant to this:
“Google is telling me that it’s right here, James. Why can’t you listen to me?”
“You’re holding the %$#@ing map upside down, Lauren. Why do I always have to do everything? You can’t do anything right.”
“Why do you have to be so mean to me? I’m human, James.”
2 points against Humanity.
Needless to say, we never found the Blue Line and eventually had to take a longer, more circuitous route that dropped us off farther from our destination than originally planned. No worries, we could use the exercise in the beautiful, sunny weather we reasoned.
Ten seconds later, it started pouring.
3 points against Humanity.
We trudged the nearly 7 blocks in the rain to our rental car. We were using Turo, a car rental service like AirBNB. Someone leaves the keys for us and then we take that person’s car for our allotted time and then return it back to their house.
“Let’s hope the car doesn’t come with Denise,” I joked.
Then the following events proceeded to happen in the downpour in this order:
4 points against Humanity.
Finally, we settled into the car out of the rain. We were a little later than we had anticipated, but we were excited to get on the road.
James started the car and plugged into the app that we had entered the car. He paused. He paused some more. He had a look of disbelief on his face. He then had a look of ire on his face.
“James, what is it? What’s wrong?”
“We can’t take the %$#@ing car out of state.”
“What?! How did you not know that?”
Wrong thing for me to say, considering I was the one who booked an AirBNB with Denise.
5 points against Humanity.
We probably sat in the car, completely in denial of our situation, for another 20 minutes. Our only other option was to Uber back to Denise’s, grab our luggage, and take an Uber the 2 hours and 12 minutes to Milwaukee.
Having settled on that plan, we executed our plan in that manner. By this point, we had resigned to the fact that we wouldn’t get to explore the city and we would be slightly late to the game.
The Uber guy picked us up and upon seeing that we would be going to Milwaukee said that he couldn’t take us.
6 points against Humanity.
However, after some under the table dealing, we convinced him to make the trek.
Half a point recovered by Humanity.
Standing in front of American Family Field, 5 innings late to the game, exhausted, annoyed, and with 5 ½ points stacked against Humanity, I had little hope that anything about the rest of the evening would go well. Nothing would restore my faith in Humanity at this point.
Of course, we couldn’t find the entrance to the game. Every entrance we arrived at was closed and a terrible thought crossed my mind: What if we are too late to get into the game?
Then, something miraculous happened. The employees working the gate were willing to help us. Having been to 24 MLB stadiums at this point, we were well versed in the apathy of stadium workers and their lack of customer service. But not here. Here at American Family Field where I was wondering if they took the name of their stadium literally. When you’re here, you’re family? A tear trickled down my eye.
They were not only willing to help us, they were wanting to help us. They were thrilled to help us. Everyone was. The workers. The guests. The fans. EVERYONE WAS SO NICE!
They led us inside. They led us to food. They led us to restrooms. They led us to our seats. They said, “please, thank you, my pleasure.”
What was happening?
Not wanting to tempt fate, I thought that nothing good could possibly keep happening.
But then I sat down in my seat to watch a baseball game and opened my mouth to try cheese curds for the first time.
And my faith in humanity was restored with each cheesy, delectable, delicious bite.
My goal now is to become a certified sleep and anxiety coach and as part of that I developed a mini STRESS FREE SLEEP email course.
I highly suggest checking it out if you struggle with sleep and panic.
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