This month, I'm participating in the Slice of Life challenge with Two Writing Teachers. If you want to participate, you can link up at their Slice of Life Story Post or you can head on over there to check out other people's stories and follow along with the fun. For more information on what a Slice of Life is about, you can go here.
* * *
Yesterday when I was downtown, I walked out of the Art Institute and was on my way to the parking garage when on the sidewalk in front of me I spotted a man in dark jeans with a leather jacket and a huge, black pig on a leash.
I already had my phone out so I snuck a picture of him and his pig.
He was tugging at the leash, trying to convince the pig to follow him down the street.
Why was this pig in downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue in front of the Art Institute?
Where did this pig come from?
Where was this man taking this pig?
And again, why? Why was there a pig on a leash in the middle of the city?!
I kept walking, smiled politely as I passed the man still trying to coerce the pig to cooperate with him.
My car was parked in the parking garage and I needed to take the elevator near the man and the pig down to get to it. I pushed the button and waited for the elevator to come, furiously texting my friend to tell her I had just passed a pig on the street. The elevator car rose from below and I watched the people through the glass door of the elevator as they spotted the pig and their eyes went wide.
I wasn't the only one who was shocked to see a pig on a leash in downtown Chicago.
They got off the elevator and I stepped in.
The man called to me. "Can you hold the elevator? We'll be right there."
We meaning him and his pig.
What do you think I said?
I mean, what was I supposed to say?
I said, "Sure." And I held the door open button.
The people who had just gotten off the elevator turned around to watch the man still struggling to gently shove the pig onto the elevator. It was a spectacle. They were amused. I, well, I gave them a look. The look said is this really happening? what is going on here? am i on candid camera?
The pig grunted and squealed and hemmed and hawed as the man wrangled him onto the elevator.
The pig did not want to be in the elevator.
I didn't particularly want to be in the elevator either.
Finally, when the man and his pig were in the elevator with me (!), I hit the door close button.
The pig lurched forward, his snout stopping the door in its tracks but the man grabbed him and pulled him back into the elevator.
The pig did not want to be in the elevator.
I really didn't want to be in the elevator either.
But there we were.
I pushed the button for my floor and asked the man which level he was going to.
We were going to the same stop. I wasn't sure if this was good or bad. I wasn't sure if being on an elevator with a cranky pig who did not want to be there was good or bad. But good or bad, it was happening.
I stared at the door, glad we were only going one floor down and cursing myself for not taking the stairs but remembering that my car was right in front of the elevator. All I had to do was survive this elevator ride with the man and the pig and I'd be back in my car and safely on my way home.
The car settled, the doors opened, I held the door for the man and the pig.
He said, "Come on. Let's go home."
Off they went to their car. And off I went to mine with a story to tell.
I have no idea if this story will ever be more than a funny tale to tell but as I think about spoken word this month, I've been focusing on using it as a medium for activism, especially after listening to Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and learning how hip hop started in the South Bronx after the Civil Rights movement and was a continuation of speaking up, sharing one's experience and using one's voice. But this man and his pig reminded me that there are funny stories to tell too. And sometimes we need funny stories. Sometimes, when life is overwhelming and everything seems hard and there is so much to do and think about and pay attention to and try to change...a funny story is just what I need.
This was a good reminder that sometimes truth is stranger - and more funny! - than fiction. I never ever in my wildest dreams would have come up with this story but now I can say:
One time, I rode an elevator with a pig in downtown Chicago(!).