Sunday, February 14, 2010


When I was growing up in my tiny little hometown of Hilbert, Wisconsin, I never would have dreamed in a million years that I’d end up living in downtown Chicago.

But you know what? I absolutely love it.

I love the public transit, the ethnic restaurants, the many unique neighborhoods, the public parks, the free zoo, the tourists, the locals, and the hustle and bustle in the city streets.

And you know what else I love?

Amusing encounters with random strangers.

Like a couple of weeks ago, when a street musician was playing “Happy Together” on his saxophone. You know, the one that goes.

Imagine me and you, I do
I think about you day and night, it's only right
To think about the girl you love and hold her tight
So happy together

Anyway, Iwanski and I were about to cross the intersection, and I noticed that the guy who was with his wife across the street was singing and grooving to the tune. So I started singing, too, and as the light turned green and we crossed the street, Iwanski and I, and the guy and his wife, all sang loudly in unison, “So happy together!”

I love moments like that.

And then there was the incident yesterday, when Iwanski and I, having just purchased cups of coffee from 7-Eleven, walked outside and saw a woman slip and fall on a big patch of ice.

Iwanski immediately sprung into action and went over to help her, cup of coffee in hand—except that he stepped onto another patch of ice right near her. So of course, he started slipping, too, and did a couple of those huge swinging motions with his arms to try to catch himself. Luckily, he caught himself just in the nick of time—but it was totally hilarious-looking. I started cracking up. I think even the woman who had fallen was laughing, as she stood up and brushed herself off. Then, a guy who was passing by and had witnessed the whole thing said to Iwanski, “That was almost awesome.”

That was almost awesome. Hilarious! I couldn’t stop laughing.

People just amuse me.

Of course, there are times when encounters with random strangers don’t go as well—usually when I have a blonde moment and say something stupid.

Like yesterday, when we saw a guy in a wheelchair cursing because he had just missed his train.

Trying to be nice and sympathetic, I said, “I know what you mean, we just missed our bus, too. I feel your pain.”

Yes, that’s right. I told a guy in a wheelchair that I felt his pain. D’oh! Luckily, he had already moved away from me, so I’m not sure that he had even heard what I’d said.

Let’s hope not.

But overall, encounters with random strangers are quite enjoyable. I especially love it when tourists ask me directions or where to get on the train. Often, I am walking that way, anyway, so I just walk with them to show them the way. They are always very grateful, and I enjoy finding out about where they are from and why they are in Chicago.

I think my favorite walk (so far) was with a guy from Dublin, Ireland. He had a relatively thick brogue, so I only understood about half of what he said, but it was fun to listen to him, all the same.

I am so grateful to be living in a city that attracts tourists from near and far.

Encounters with random strangers—yet one more reason that I love living here.


Ben said...

Oh my gosh, you're making me anticipate getting out of the suburbs even more! :)

Buck said...

We have a free zoo?
Where's that?

Barb said...

Living in Fla ~ so close to many vacation destinations, I like talking to visitors and try to make them feel welcome, learn a little about them and try to suggest some places and things that are unique here that only we "locals" usually know about.

Random Thinker said...

Keep your eyes open today for a tall brunette from Michigan named Emily. My niece is in the city looking at universities. You're bound to run into her.


how cool is the happy together moment..
I'm always singing to my oldies/goodies radio and if it's a good one I will still be singing along when i go into the stores..people in west are used to me wandering in singing...we will we will rock you..or something along those lines..patsy says after i leave everyone in the store will be singing the song and cussing me..ha

Mom said...

I want to move to Chicago!

rosemary said...

Yup, makes me miss the city.....almost.

Fantastic Forrest said...

I love your stories from The Big City. So fun! We have those kinds of experiences too.

But I don't like that you beat yourself up over the wheelchair guy. You didn't say anything wrong. You acknowledged his situation and let him know he wasn't alone. Or at least you tried to. I think people with disabilities appreciate being seen as more than just their limitations.

That said, I will say that I too suffer from saying things that I wish I hadn't. Like when my aunt who volunteers for mental illness groups comes to visit and I suddenly call every other thing "crazy" when I know she hates that word. It's like my conscious effort to avoid the term makes it spring to my tongue. Urgh!