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The writing class was taking place somewhere out by the old 3M plant, in the little Iowa farm town where I grew up. M_____ had signed up for it, too, and were going together.
We had plenty of time to get there, and boarded a city bus. Only the bus turned out to be traveling in the wrong direction. It would take forever for us to circle around the route to our destination. The longer we stayed on, the more our mistake would end up costing us.
We got off at the next stop and decided to take a cab. Now, it was almost certain we'd arrive late. We wandered all over trying to hail a cab. M_____ even went into a store to get some help, advice, or directions. But when he came out, something had happened to him in there. He was completely disoriented, unsure of when or where he, or we, were.
Worse, a whole classroom of schoolkids had arrived and were at our back, standing between us and the way out. Once we finally pushed our way through we were on the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive. No cab would ever find us there, or if it did, it would never be able to stop. We walked on the shoulder of the road until we came to an exit, the one for Belmont.
It led to an underground area I'd never seen before. A dark place where nothing but concrete existed, top to bottom, side to side. Taxis passed us by, but none of them would stop. Then a heavyset woman with several suitcases walked right up to, and then past, us.
I knew she needed a cab, too. And sure enough, one appeared and picked her up instead of us. As she was getting in, putting all of those suitcases into the trunk, I saw an opportunity to take her purse without being noticed. She deserved it for taking our cab.
Almost immediately I started having second thoughts about what I'd done. I opened the purse, thinking that I'd find some ID inside and be able to return it to her. Inside there were wads of cash, fifties, hundreds, bills so big I'd never seen them before.
M_____ and I moved on. Now all we could do was call the instructor and say that we were running late. That way they'd at least save our spots. M_____ had all the information in his backpack. The number was right there on the first page.
Now all we needed to do was find a phone.