Whenever I see the typical Chicago scene on the street, where five over-fed guys who are working for the city are standing around, while the sixth guy is pushing around dirt or putting a rope on a nail or using a jackhammer, I think about this joke:
"How many Teamsters does it take to change a lightbulb?"
"Five--you got a problem with that?"
Tonight I walked past four guys standing around, looking down a hole in the street, blocking traffic. One guy made a joke about being part of Local Whatever, and another guy took offense. They then had to come to an agreement that it was just a joke, and even though one of them was from Indiana, he should still be able to take it, blah blah blah. And I wondered who was doing the work--were they waiting for the fifth guy to finish hanging a thread on a piece of cement, or were they trying to figure out which Local was responsible for putting the cover back over the hole?
The thing is, it's common in Chicago for outdoor city jobs, such as construction or the Department of Streets and Sanitation, to be staffed by several people who are not allowed (or willing) to multi-task: one guy drives the truck to the site, another unloads the pipes or whatever, another sets up the barriers, another unlocks the door, another puts his finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing, etc. They're just not in the same lane as the rest of us: while a lot of jobs require you to be able to juggle different responsibilities, these guys (and some gals) take care of nothing more than their narrow tasks, collect the cushy paychecks that we furnish them through our inflated taxes, and continue to talk about who would be most offended by a joke while they stand around waiting for the day to end.
When it's daylight and I have a camera with me, I'll take a picture and post it here. It's a lot easier than trying to explain. And it's not like I won't have plenty of opportunities to get that perfect shot.
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