Whenever I go to Chicago, or any big city, I like trying to figure out who lives in the city and who falls into that dreaded “tourist” category. Generally, the easiest way for me to tell is to rate the person’s level of annoyance on a scale of 1-5.
On Saturdays, especially Saturdays near Christmas, the 4s and 5s are the ones who just need to run to Walgreens to get some tampons, and have to fight 3,000 shoppers stopping in the middle of the sidewalk to apply chapstick, consult their maps, and wonder aloud how to hail a taxi.
(The 4s and 5s remind me of myself, in August, working in a college town. I’m just trying to run to Target on my lunch hour, but I end up trudging slowly through the aisles with 152 fresh-faced co-eds saying brilliant things such as “We should, like, buy a lamp.” “Yeah! Like, a lamp is an awesome idea!”)
The 1s and 2s in a big city are the excited teenage girls who shriek with delight anytime they see anything unusual to them: a Coach store, a larger-than-life Miley Cyrus poster, a street performer, a revolving door, a big building. They are oblivious to the 4s and 5s because to them, the city only exists once or twice a year when they come to visit.
The 3s are harder to determine. They could either be residents whose children somehow convinced them that they HAD to go to the American Girl store today (because children don’t understand the horror of big crowds and that you avoid them at all costs), or they could be the people from rural Indiana who know their way around and are just exhausted from pounding the pavement all day (“I’m going to Indianapolis next year”) – both display about the same level of irritation.
But in any case of people-watching, one way you can definitely tell that someone doesn’t live in the city is when they do seriously dorky things like this outside of the John Hancock building: