Conquer a new Metropolis Like Mary Tyler Moore
by Seth Elliot
The perfect job opportunity may call entrepreneurs to the concrete jungle, while dreamers make the move on a leap of faith. Either life-changing path requires more than the right pair of shoes to hit the ground running in a city like Chicago. Sound advice from a transplant will help you navigate an unfamiliar skyline and conquer a new metropolis like Mary Tyler Moore.
However, if you must relive the famous sit-com sequence, it is imperative to look both ways on the street before throwing your hat in the air to celebrate. In Chicago the bicycles are as dangerous as cars, and pedestrian traffic is a major thoroughfare. A scene like that is more likely to make you look like panhandler on a bender than a career girl on the rise.
The Age of Technology has Google-mapped us into believing anywhere is accessible, while demonstrating how small our world is. Whatever scene of people, places and happenings you seek is at your fingertips, waiting in the search queue.
A few apps and a strong Wi-Fi signal will open up entire worlds, but beware: Staring at your phone can be hazardous to your health. Getting mugged because you weren’t paying attention is a tough lesson, yet not as tough as getting hit by a city bus.
Your hometown may have had sparks to peak your cultural interest, but a full-blown bonfire rages in the big city. Though you may not consider yourself an innocent, the antics at your former stomping ground are certain to pale in comparison to the scene on the Manhole dance floor, yet shock value of all outlandish things diminishes quickly once overexposed. Eventually, a double take is rarely required as you encounter scenes ranging from Sex-In-the-City nightmare to ancient Roman fantasy, and feelings of wonder fill the most elementary errand runs, excitement of the fresh landscape drawing your face against the car window like a kid on vacation.
Locals are sure to pick out an unfamiliar face or posterior up for grabs quickly once you search out your kindred crowd. No matter how aged your slab of meat might be, we all get to enjoy being a fresh cut on display in a new meat market. It’s important to embrace the attention, network and explore your current social potential. Inject your fresh start with positivity and make meaningful connections; superficial interactions are sure to shorten your shelf life in the spotlight. You may feel like a rare find one day, but in the wrong company, you look like leftovers the next. Being new to a city is a foolproof icebreaker for any situation and can keep your awkward moments to a minimum.
Don’t rush to be a part of the herd and adopt the “the look” of any new region blindly. Trading your preppy disposition to appeal to the skank-tank and high-top crowd makes you a chameleon, but who wants to disappear? Instead use the opportunity to show off your colors, then adapt and adopt some of the regional garb naturally into your aesthetic over time. Polished personal style will serve you well, separate you from the crowd and allow you to shine. Fashion is always evolving and so should we – personal style is what we say to the world about ourselves without opening our mouths … unless, of course, we’re rocking a grille.
If a city is a melting pot of people, the trains and subways are its blender. During rush hour people are packed in like sardines, as individuals who otherwise never mingle are crammed into each others’ personal space so tightly a girl could get pregnant by collision.
Beware the warning signs of a painful commute:
First, nothing good ever starts out with the proclamation “I know you people are going to think I’m crazy.” I once witnessed a woman using her monogramed LV speedy bag to keep a vagrant admirer at a safe distance, a perfect use for that tired accessory. No one could budge to escape the scene, but her transient suitor reminding us we were all “one in a million … sperm” from our parents made even her laugh.
Second, that vacant seat on a full train probably is empty for a reason, so look (and smell) before you just plop down. You know the train is dirty when the homeless man breaks out a bottle of Purell after exiting to fight off public transit plague.
Finally, fashion must function in city life. You can pick out the seasoned civilians whose stylish layers keep them both protected from the elements and looking sharp. It’s key to have a choice bag constantly in tow, functioning as the equivalent to the trunk of your car in the suburbs. A pedestrian lifestyle will eat your Prada wingtips alive, so it’s crucial to have your sneaker game tight to get from point A to point B. The change of shoes is just one of the essentials packed in most commuters’ bags.
Making the switch to a Megalopolis will remind you of the great things about your hometown. The people are what I miss most, but finding a good barbecue spot hasn’t been easy, either. My visits back to Kansas City remind me of how many great personal connections and favorite places I left as I try to squeeze them all in. Upon my recent return, I noticed something had changed – traffic didn’t seem bad at all. I kept rechecking for parking signs, and it felt as if the streets were empty. While I’m starting to adapt to my new home, embracing roots in Kansas City helps me to succeed in my Chicago adventure daily.