NOT THAT YOU ASKED, BUT ...: Riding the rails to Chicago for the first time

Denise Fedorow

I recently marked taking the South Shore to Chicago off my list when we took the train to Chicago for our Partylite conference. It was rare for us to be in the same location two years in a row and whether to take the train was a great debate last year among the attendees, but someone eventually volunteered to drive.

That didn’t happen this year so we decided to be adventurous and take the train. I felt better knowing the train stopped at the lower level of our hotel. But as usual there was a glitch — the South Shore doesn’t stop at McCormick Place during the week and furthermore, because of work being done on the tracks they were busing everyone from the airport to Michigan City where we’d then actually get on the train.

In Chicago, we’d have to go past our stop and then either take a Metra train or an Uber or Lyft back to the hotel. There were five of us from my teams attending and despite worrying whether someone would arrive in time to catch the bus with us, everything went pretty smoothly.

We debated the Metra versus Uber but realizing we would be arriving at the hotel barely in time to get registered for the conference, we decided Uber was faster. We had to walk about two blocks through a nice park to meet up with our drive and we failed to mention there were five of us with five suitcases. So in order to get us and our baggage all in the small car we literally had to sit on top of each other in the back. Luckily it was only a 10-minute ride!

He got us there about 7 minutes to 7 p.m. — the cutoff time for registration until the next morning. Your crazy columnist was determined we were going to make it — forgetting it was like a 15-20 minute walk through the hotel/conference center to where we’d be meeting. So I once again found myself in a situation of hustling somewhere lugging a suitcase and practically incapacitating myself doing so. Besides my pain issues one of my team members had just had foot surgery and was in a boot. One of the younger girls took pity on me and switched my 30-pound suitcase with her 6-pound suitcase.

We got there just as they were packing up the registration table and we got it done — giving me a teachable moment in determination. We did miss an optional training that night, but allowed for rest time before our late night rehearsal for the lip sync battle.

Yes, you read that correctly. I somehow managed to volunteer to be part of a lip sync battle team representing our region. It sounded like fun at first, but then it became competitive and I started wondering how I managed to get myself into performing on stage at national conference with a region that wanted us to win.

We chose the song “Party in the USA” because it was fun and simple to choreograph. I had the chorus down, but there were a couple of hand motions in the verse that I kept confusing. We didn’t perform until Saturday, so after seeing other teams battle I was feeling a bit — no, a LOT — intimidated. But we had a member in a scooter that was going to be our “taxi” and a region that would all be waving flags while we performed.

Well, there was no ramp, so our taxi was out and I don’t think the cameramen even noticed our flag waving region — but I did and it was cool. My red, white and blue glowing necklace fell off as I entered the stage and I dropped one of my poppers at the end, but I survived. The applause was really close but alas our competition was deemed the winner.

On the way home on the South Shore, we realized our trip was being narrated by the South Shore Rail Rangers — the writer in me was wishing I was taking notes because they were giving some fascinating history from Chicago to South Bend. They made sure we saw the Jackson Five Mural in Gary, among other things.

Now that I’ve ridden the South Shore, I plan to again. Maybe take the grandkids to the dunes park for the day or something. Or finally do that Chicago Christmas visit my BFF and I’ve been talking about for 20 years.

Denise Fedorow is a correspondent and columnist for The Goshen News. Her column, Not That You Asked, But appears every other week. You may reach her by email at fed1@bnin.net on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @DeniseFedorow.

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Correspondent and columnist for The Goshen News