The Chicago Dictionary

The Chicago Dictionary, Volume One

By John F. Di Leo – 

Definitions of Words and Idioms that Mean Something Else in Illinois; posted as a public service for the consumers of news

City Council: A rectangular block of rubber, affixed to a rounded wooden handle.  Ordinarily used in conjunction with an ink pad.  (Alternate definition: a justification for tax increases).

City Jobs: Political jobs. (Alternate definition: Bitter people who thought they were getting one of those cool ghost-payrolling jobs, but were surprised to find that they didn’t).

Collective Bargaining: The union boss talks; you listen.  There’s nothing collective about it, and there’s no bargaining either. (Alternate definition: a justification for tax increases).

Crowdsourcing: The process of hiring a group of thugs to protest outside a business so that a race hustler can get the owner to give his kid a dealership or franchise.

Democrat Politician: Socialist politician.

Donation: Obligatory payment to keep one’s job or business license.

Elections: Frequent opportunities to hold fundraisers, send out mailings, and pour money into radio and television advertising coffers, capped off by entertaining all-night television coverage on an otherwise boring Tuesday night, without any pesky need for actual leadership change afterward.

Expressway: An unmetered parking lot.

Fairness:  Unfairness.  (Alternate definition:  a justification for tax increases).

Front Row Seat: The only place in a church where a future presidential candidate can sit for twenty years and get the fame of being a prominent member of the congregation without ever actually hearing a single sermon.

Ghost Payrolling Job:  A person who – instead of working for the bureau that issues his paycheck – works diligently for the politician who sponsored him for the job, and will then work just as diligently to turn state’s evidence against his sponsor when he eventually gets caught in a federal investigation.

Governor’s Mansion:  The vacation home of the Chicago Teachers’ Union’s pet demagogue.

A way of life.  (Alternate definition: a means of employment).

Hair Loss: What happens when a hereditary Chicago political family (insert favorite alderman/legislator/mayoral surname here) finally reaches an unproductive generation that produces no more unqualified kids to whom to pass on an elected office, so the dynasty finally, mercifully, dies out.

(Alternate definition: the few hours of terrified balding between a Chicago politician hearing the rumor that he’s about to be indicted, and the actual arrival of the police to arrest him).

Home Rule: The opportunity for a city or village to choose on its own to do what Chicago wants it to do, rather than having the state capital force it to do what Chicago wants it to do. (Alternate definition: a justification for tax increases).

I-Pass:  The happy exclamation that a future mayor shouts to his family, after getting the test results that prove Eddie fixed it for him as promised.

Judges: What voluntarily-retired politicians become.

Jumpsuits: What forcibly-retired politicians wear.

Jury: The Democratic Party’s default nominating committee.

Pension: A process in which the government makes a promise to government employees, and sets up a retirement fund ostensibly for their well-being, and then raids it routinely for years and years so that it can never possibly produce what was promised. (Alternate definition: a justification for tax increases).

Prison:  A taxpayer-subsidized home for former Illinois governors.

Private Sector:  An endangered species, which, unlike most endangered species, is not protected by government, but is rather hounded, coerced, manhandled, and driven off on a regular basis. (Alternate definition: an arguably mythical world, with sightings occurring less and less frequently every year).

Property Taxes: A cornucopia that successfully funds the schools, politicians, and the welfare state, without ever falling short or driving any residents away, as far as you know.

Registered Voter: Anyone or anything, actual or fictional, alive or dead, here or elsewhere, whose name (real or fake) can be used to create a Democrat vote, on election day, or earlier, or sometimes even later.  (Alternate definition:  “Whatever you want it to mean”).

Republican Politician: Democrat politician.

Road Resurfacing Program: An opportunity to pass out contracts to campaign donors, so that, instead of drivers being inconvenienced by the occasional crack or pothole, they are instead inconvenienced by endless orange barrels, reduced lanes, and work zone speed limits. (Alternate definition: a justification for tax increases).

Speaker of the House: A lifetime position, much like a mob boss, but without the risk of jail time. (Alternate Definition: a justification for tax increases).

Springfield: Most important and obedient vassal of the duchy of Chicago.

Temporary Income Tax Hike:  A permanent income tax hike.

Tollway:  A metered parking lot.

Tumblers:  The entirely non-political athletic association that elected a Secretary of State. (Alternate definition:  the short cocktail glasses that have been helping donors survive interminable political fundraising dinners for over a hundred years).
Copyright 2014 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based international trade compliance trainer, Illinois Review columnist, actor, and recovering politician.  He was born in Chicago, but moved to the suburbs when he was a year old, then grew up in Evanston, Park Ridge, and Aurora.  He has never spent another night in the city since 1963.  When asked why, he says something about wanting to stay out of reach of “the denizens of the 51st Ward…”

In case anyone got offended reading this humor column, don’t worry.  Letters of apology have already been sent to Merriam-Webster, Oxford, American Heritage, Samuel Johnson, and Ambrose Bierce.

Permission is hereby granted to forward freely, provided it is uncut and the IR URL and byline are included.  Follow John F. Di Leo on Linkedin or Facebook, or on Twitter at @johnfdileo.

“The Chicago Dictionary, Volume One,” was originally published in Illinois Review, HERE.

Several more volumes, in a similar vein, can be found in Illinois Review… watch for the eventual publication of The Chicago Dictionary in print form!

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