I work above the eastern end of what is commonly referred to as the Pedway – a series of interconnected tunnels that gives Loop workers a place to walk, eat and travel from place to place when the weather is too brutal in either direction – and gives Potbelly another place to stick a franchise (I’m not complaining). While I have little need for the Pedway most of the time, since I usually bring my lunch and am fortunate enough to have a bus stop right outside of my building, I still troll its dark corners from time to time. Often enough to know it well; sporadically enough to still find it fascinating.
Aside from housing an eclectic mix of businesses – small convenience stores, fly-by-night shops with perfume and Kate Spade knockoffs arranged artfully on folding tables; Cosi, Fresh Choice, Burrito Beach, 16 different Dunkin Donuts; the Pedway also houses an eclectic mix of aromas (odors?). I mean, you do the math: no ventilation + dozens upon dozens of places that cook, melt, spray, fry, process and perm = 40 city blocks of unrelenting nasal assault.
I can’t claim to have walked the entire Pedway, but I’ve memorized my path from Houlihan’s, where I begin my journey, all the way until I reemerge at ground level. So, moving eastward…
(Door), appetizer sampler, coffee, ink, Potbelly (burnt), concentrated sandwiches, coffee, coconut shampoo, overripe produce, Sterno Canned Heat, (door), cigarettes, (door), sweaty kids in summer/melted grape popsicles – a thick, cloying smell (which makes no sense because at this point, I’m walking past some sort of small outfit that makes video presentations for Hyatt), hair relaxer, blow dryer heat, rental cars, curry, steam, (door), cool vacuum of museum air, (door), coffee, Mexican breakfast sandwiches, florist’s foam, (escalator), sunlight.