Take a ride

Wednesday . . . the Slough of Despond of the week. Couldn’t we all use a pick-me-up? Could you make do with a pick-up instead? The taxi type, that is.
This week, Dmitry Samarov’s Hack: Stories from a Chicago Cab rolls out of the garage and flips on its ON DUTY light. Presenting tales originally written for Samarov’s ongoing blog, the book offers a cabbie’s-eye tour of Chicago, traveling its late-night streets fare by fare, revealing the city and its people at their most vulnerable, open, and unguarded.

In his introduction, Samarov writes “Cabdrivers catch people at the most revealing moments—not when they have their game faces on, but with their guard down, unable to pretend,” and in his brief sketches of passengers, unusual conversations, and strange events, he gives us a privileged glimpse into those fleeting interactions that reveal so much about our fellow citizens’ hopes, dreams, and secret pains. Happy, clueless tourists on their way in from O’Hare; Clark Street drunks staggering out of Friday night and into Saturday morning; Cubs fans spilling from Wrigley after a win (or, more likely, a loss); the deserted streets of a lonely Christmas behind the wheel—Samarov brings his gentle, humane appreciation of human foibles and oddities to them all, knowing but never cynical, reminding us why we love this city, warts and all.
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The flag is pulled, the meter is running, and for the cost of a post-party ride home, you can pick up Hack at any bookstore. Meanwhile, we recommend you follow Dmitry on Twitter, continue reading the blog, and, oh, yes, tip extravagantly.