As a fun exercise, I took a setting and described it from a couple of different perspectives. So, in the big city setting of Chicago, I wrote from the viewpoint of a pickpocket, a mother and her children, a farmer, and of course, a city chic.
My Line of Business
I casually lounged against the wall, my nose in the latest edition of the Chicago Times as I waited for the bus. No one bothered to look at me. Cast as a middle-aged, respectably dressed, hard-working businessman, I blended into the crowd. After glancing at my watch, I assessed the amassing crowd about me. This is what I loved about this city: there were so many perfect targets, and, unlike in Rome or Paris, fewer people suspected my intentions. All I had to do was slip a couple wallets out of pockets and purses from the close-standing bunch of people around me. They wouldn’t even realize what had happened until they were on the bus, and I wasn’t. It was perfect, all the people, cars, noises, sounds, and sights, hid me instantly. I was like a chameleon, blending into the chaotic background and disappearing. Now, just before the bus was to arrive, I began. With a scoff, I batted my newspaper in an affectation of disgust, opening an instant conversation with the unsuspecting couple beside me. We began talking politics, as I molded my beliefs, congenially agreeing with whatever they said. They warmed to me in no time –it was almost too easy. All the while I was assessing his pockets, her purse, debating which one would be more profitable. Only when the man turned to crane his neck, searching for the approaching bus in the sea of taxis, did I see the bulging wallet in his back pocket. Soon, the crowd was pushing and shoving to get onto the bus, and I joined in the jostling. But suddenly, at the bus’s door, I realized I had “forgotten” my briefcase. Bidding the couple goodbye, I returned to the bus stop with my new wallet. Gleefully, I looked into its contents. It was empty save for a brief, hand-written note reading, “Nice Try.”
Not Enough Hands
If only I had one more hand, I thought as I tried to grab my three children with the two hands I possessed. Excited and eager as they were to be downtown Chicago, I couldn’t blame them for pressing their noses to every window, peering down every street, ogling each street vendor, and dazedly looking up to the tops of skyscrapers. But somehow I had to channel them in one direction and insure their safety. I wasn’t one of those mother hens, who had to control each movement her children made, but this is different, I told myself. Who knew what danger lay around the next corner? As we wandered our way about the maze of buildings and streets and people, my mind raced through the possibilities. They could be abducted. The crowd could jostle us apart. We could become separated, and they wouldn’t be able to find me. One of them might stop at a stand, and I wouldn’t know it. My head spun in circles until I lost track of which buildings or streets we passed. My fingers ached. Holding two hands in one of mine gave us the appearance of some deformed group stepping on each other as we hobbled along. Car horns blared at us as we scurried across a street. Now where were we? I didn’t have the courage to release my strong grip on any one of my young children to reach for the map in my pocket. If only we could go back to the country, where I could rest easy, watching from a distance as my children played in the healthy air.
No Place Like Home
The first thing that hit me was the noise. Shouts, car horns, and squealing breaks jangled about in my brain. I looked to the sky for relief. Rows and rows of windows piled on top of each other lined my rising gaze. These towers glared down at me, their very stare choking me. It took me a moment to realize the thin strip of grey I could see between the buildings was the sky. My eyes searched for green, the real green of grass or leaves, not the artificial coloring of store signs and advertisements; but they found nothing. Even the smells nauseated my stomach. One of many nearby cars choked out exhaust as it rolled over a sewer drain which wafted up foul odors. The vendor, offering hotdogs, corndogs, chilidogs, and anything deep-fried and soaked in grease, knew not to trouble me as I disdainfully eyed his cart. People, hurrying anxiously through their day, jostled me for my slow pace. My shoe landed in gum. It stuck. With each step I took, I had to add an extra oomph to lift my foot, causing a fresh wave of longing for wide-open spaces to roll over me. I belonged on a farm, surrounded by grass and trees, wind and sky. Instead I saw buildings and shops, crowds and cars. I’d take my country life over this city any day. There is no other place on earth I’d feel at home than in the country.
My high heels clicked against the concrete, confidently, daringly. There was a bounce in my step, a spark in my eye. I felt wonderful as I stepped onto the crosswalk, cars honking in sync to my stride. The frantic energy of the world around me matched my own excitement. I felt important in my pencil skirt and blouse, active amidst the jostling life in the city, independent as I hailed a taxi. Each street I crossed offered me new possibilities, new shops, new designs, everything that was exciting and thrilling. Each advertisement popped off its post, demanding my attention, parading new ideas and new trends. Each vender offered some souvenir or refreshment to passersby. From this one city, I had millions of options to decide what to do, what to see, where to go, where to shop, where to eat, what to buy. I couldn’t imagine the city lacking anything a person could desire. It had everything –museums, entertainment, stores, people, employment, housing –everything. Yes, homeless people sat on street corners, clanking their empty cups. There were also thieves, waiting to reach into your pockets. But no one thought of such things while standing before a lavish window display in the Water Tower Mall.