Chicago's unwritten rules

What are the implicit "rules" of Chicago city life that everyone should know how to follow?

June 3, 2013

A recent Buzzfeed article, "33 Unwritten Rules Everyone Needs to Follow," reads like the internal dialogue that causes many of us to roll our eyes and shake our fists at the sky on a daily basis.
 
For example, Rule 15: "Put things back where you found them," a common courtesy that I found woefully lacking when I was restocking bookshelves at Borders every night until the break of dawn.
 
Also, Rule 19: "Hold the door when you walk in after someone," which surprisingly few people bother to do.
 
Now that I live in Chicago (and no longer work in retail, hallelujah!) I have noticed a particular set of "rules" to city life that most people follow without thinking, such as sitting in the window seat of a train or bus during peak travel times and calling out "On your left!" before passing other cyclists on the lakefront path. 
 
However, an aggravating few remain—like the guy who stands on the left side of the escalator when you're already late for work, or the woman who rolls her shopping cart full of groceries into the express lane—to blatantly defy such rules whenever they can.
 

So without further ado, here is my list of Chicago's unwritten rules (some inspired by the comments on a Facebook status from WBEZ Afternoon Shift producer Justin Kaufmann in relation to this article, and others drawn from my own experiences as a city-dweller): 

  • Let people off the train before you get on, keep your bags off the seats and move to the back of the bus before the driver has to yell at you.  
  • Do not talk on your phone or listen to music on full-blast while taking public transit. Everyone will hate you.

  Note: The CTA voice tells us many of these things; but apparently, people do not listen to him. 

  • Walk with a purpose. Getting stuck behind a slow walker is the worst. Also, do not take up the whole sidewalk by linking arms with your friends. This isn't the Yellow Brick Road. 
  • Look out for bikes before opening your car door.
  • If you hold up your iPad to take a picture, expect another person to take a picture of you on their phone and then post it on Instagram to make fun of you. 
  • Never ask for ketchup on your Chicago-style hotdog.
  • Pick a team. You can't root for the White Sox and the Cubs. You must choose. 
  • Remember that the Original Billy Goat is hallowed ground. They will never serve fries there, so please stop complaining about it. 
  • Do not ask for a "tall" at an indie coffeeshop. The baristas will know that you meant "small," but they will still judge you. 
  • Tip your bartenders well on the first round. They will remember you.
  • If you secretly like LeBron James and the Miami Heat, do not say so in public. 
  • It's called the Sears Tower

What are some other "unwritten rules" that you believe every Chicagoan should follow?

Leah Pickett writes about popular culture for WBEZ. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr.