Friday, May 22, 2020

Stuck at home? Try living at O’Hare — since April

Manuel and Linda Benavides at O'Hare airport (Photo for the Sun-Times by Ashlee Rezin Garcia)

     Linda Benavides and her husband, Manuel, slept at O’Hare International Airport Wednesday night. In Terminal 1, near baggage claim. At least they tried to sleep, until 2:30 a.m., when the police kicked them out, again. They went to sleep on the Blue Line.
     Or tried to.
     “There was a party on the train,” she said. “The Blue Line is bad. Drug addicts.”
     Most likely they will be back at O’Hare tonight, sleeping there again, or trying to, leaning against each other, using their jackets as blankets. 

     They’ve slept at O’Hare most nights for the past month. A good place to sleep, Linda said, because the bathrooms are right there. But not exactly pleasant.
     “It’s hard,” said Linda, 65. She said it several times. ”It’s hard.”   
     Why is it hard? Well, the lights are always on, for starters. And the constant looped announcements. “Cover coughs and sneezes and clean and disinfect hard surfaces...”
     Plus it’s cold. 
     “Like a refrigerator,” she said.
     The couple is used to the warmth of Central America. They lived in El Salvador for more than 10 years, trying to stretch her tiny pension from the Chicago Board of Education.
     “The only family he had was in El Salvador,” said Linda, while Manuel, 64, looked on. “He lets me do all of the talking because he can’t express himself that well.”
     They lived in San Salvador from 2009 until April 16.
     “We were helping his mom,” she said. Then his mother died. And the trouble began.

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Photo for the Sun-Times by Ashlee Rezin Garcia

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing how many cracks there are in this society for people to fall through. I have to admit that if I saw the Benavides trying to sleep at O'Hare, I wouldn't give them a second thought beyond, "What the hell are they doing!" Kudos to those who have helped them. I certainly hope that someone from the City will assist them in finding more comfortable and secure sleeping arrangements.



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