Earlier this week I was on the longest bus commute ever, it seemed, when I was reminded how great this City and its people are.
It was one of those days when I had just missed the bus by a block and decided to wait for the next bus rather than hoof it to the nearest train stop. That turned out to be a mistake, of course, because I waited for what seemed like an eternity before the next bus came. After the bus finally arrived, there was a delay, of course, and we sat waiting for an intersection to be cleared. As I vowed to never choose a bus over a train ever again and most of the other riders opted to disembark and find other transport, the remainder of the ride made me glad that I had stayed the course.
After we finally started moving, an older woman got on the bus at the next stop. She sat down and unfolded a piece of paper, then stood and approached another older woman. She had a piece of paper in her hand that read, "Please can you help her, she speaks no English but needs to get to this address." The other woman looked at the paper and started trying to give her directions, but she wasn't exactly sure whether she was giving her the right ones, and the first woman nodded along, but was clearly not understanding her words. The bus driver overheard the conversation and chimed in, but also wasn't exactly sure where the woman should get off the bus. She asked the man sitting nearby if he was familiar with the neighborhood.
Before long, the entire bus--those five of us who had sat through the long delay--were discussing this woman's need and trying decide the best place for her to get off. In the end, it was decided that a younger woman was getting off at the needed stop and that the older woman should get off with her to follow her and be shown further instruction.
This scene of a group of people helping a single person--asking no questions, making no judgements, just giving the needed support-- made me very, very proud to be a Chicagoan. And the woman with her paper who trusted that these other people were leading her the right way gave me a renewed faith in us humans.
Despite the long commute home that night, I was smiling when I arrived at my stop and thanked the driver.
As everyone (and my mother) has heard, Chicago has its problems--very serious, no good problems. The paper writes the heartbreaking stories of the violence in the city daily. And that's just the most visible product of poverty and inequality that the city faces.
BUT, what you may not hear about everyday is the goodness of the people in the city. Jackie Robinson West's young people have done a lot to combat that in the past few weeks. Their story is a GREAT one. And if you haven't seen the pictures of these boys and the way that Chicagoans have rallied around them, you are missing out on the happiness.
And here's the thing, there are more stories like theirs. There are good things happening here everyday, in neighborhoods across the city.
Yes, the problems are massive, and tragic, and often overwhelming. But the good news is that the people are great and the great news is, well, it's everywhere--if you just look.
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