I just got done talking with Ed Christiansen, who has 3 kids, 34, 31, and 7 (yes, 7). It was a little bit of a difficult conversation to have, for several reasons. First, we were standing outside Johnny O’s on 35th Street, where traffic is fairly heavy and we were streetside. It is an example of a type of restaurant I’ve seen a few times around the city, but don’t recall seeing any other place I’ve been. It is a 24 hour walk-up restaurant. The first one I saw (and later ate at) is Maxwell Street Depot, which offers (and I took them up on it) a pork chop sandwich (bone-in, as I discovered) which you can order with or without mustard and onions (with). All their sandwiches come that way, and no other way. Another is Express Grill, though there, apparently the difference is that with “everything” included hot peppers (same as at Johnny O’s).
These places (there are more, I’ve seen them, but don’t remember where) have a few things in common:
- Menus: hot dogs, hamburgers, Polish sausage, fish sandwich, chicken sandwich, fries, cheese fries.
- Fries are free with every sandwich.
- No indoor seating (Johnny O’s is the only one with outdoor seating).
- Low prices (cheeseburger, fries and a drink $4.59).
- Open 24 hours.
- Yellow wall menus with black writing and red highlights.
- Three or four staff at all times.
- Pretty good food.
- Independently owned.
- Been around 50 or more years.
- It’s a thing here.
The second thing that made my conversation with Ed difficult was that he had a quiet voice.
The third thing was his tendency to elide the first word or two of every sentence.
“Have you been coming here long?” “M’whole life.”
Finally, he had a rather thick Chicago accent.
He’s a union guy. He told me what local, I thought it ended in “97” (elided syllables again).
“Been at it 45 years. Started with the Sears Tower.” (which is the ONLY thing it’s called here by actual people. Signs and brochures use Willis Tower, but no people as far as I can tell.) He was pretty pro-union (“Health care benefits. That’s what matters. Right to work is right to get paid less.”) He took a dig at certain presidential candidate when I told him I was a teacher. “Teacher? God bless ya. Trump won’t do you no favors.”
The last thing that made conversation tricky was that there was clearly a lot of thinking going on, but only part of it came out as words, so sometimes I had to stretch to get sentences to connect. The previous one is a good example. I kind of had to figure out his frame of reference and fill in the gaps on the fly. Nice guy though.
I smiled a lot today in class. One of the girls suggested a “Disney Day” for our background music. The girls were singing and swaying and coding all day. Mulan, Little Mermaid, Lion King, they knew them all. So much fun. All that plus they learned how to embed Google Maps in their website.
There’s more, but it’s late. I saw my roommate for the first time in almost two weeks, so we had a lot to catch up on.