The Chicago Way

From Scott Simon‘s new novel, Windy City:

“You think that all we have to worry about here is picking up trash, plowing the snow, and keeping Al Capone in his grave? My God, man. There are a hundred languages spoken here. Assyrian, Lakota, Urdu, and Yiddish. The Yoo-nited Nations doesn’t have to worry bout how to say ‘beans’ in as many languages as any diner on Western Avenue. All of these folks with five-day beards and black head scarves who are going for each other’s throats over in Snowdonia? They send their kids to the same school here and tell them, ‘Now behave!’ This nation kicks a little ass some place, and soon we got thousands of them living in basements on Halsted Street. Next day, you’re in the back of their cab while they’re on their phones, plotting a coup. We’ve got nuclear physicists from the Poon-jab and goatherds from Namibia. We’ve got brain surgeons from Ogbomoso–that’s in Nigeria, if you were too embarrassed to ask–and rocket scientists from Petropavlovsk–that’s in Kazakhstan, as I’m sure you knew–working as doormen. One day, after they find life on Mars, we’ll have bug-eyed, green-ass Martian-Americans bussing tables on Clark Street. This great heaving mass of diversity is united by a single, momentous desire: They expect you to get the snow off their street.”

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