The hustle of downtown Chicago is noisy and nervous, but we can find quiet moments.
Last Sunday night, we were among the massive Wrigley Field crowd buzzing late into the night about the historic season, as Cubs’ Catcher “Grandpa” David Ross thrilled the hopeful. A Southport Brown Line stop later, the sizzle faded into a quiet ride back into the Loop.
A week later, I’m still thinking about the 11 p.m. hour on State Street. It is the time when young stragglers embrace and make their way home. The late local newscasts are over, shops close and few remain to fill the wide sidewalks. We go out walking the dog before bed – checking on window displays and landmarks. At Target, employees lock themselves inside, stocking shelves and changing seasonal displays.
As the clock strikes midnight, Chicago’s homeless become the State Street majority. They find corners to huddle, watch a TV show in the window near the Lake Street L station or make a final attempt to engage passersby. Soon, keeping warm overnight will be the survival challenge. The quiet is interrupted only by a fire engine, ambulance or cop car en route to some distant destination. The gap between the poor on State Street and everyone else is represented by certainty about your next meal and the ritual of sleeping indoors. Some of those in poverty do not seem to notice the gap – even wearing Chicago sports team shirts and jackets, if not actively rooting for the home teams.
If the Cubs play deep into October, then we’ll have a lot to make noise about. If not, the quiet moments will come sooner than expected. Either way, the quiet again will be interrupted by Thanksgiving “Black Friday,” holiday window displays and shopping. We will delight in the rush of the season, but also be glad for the quiet moments.