I'm in Chicago this week for some meetings ... doing a lot of driving, sitting in traffic, and thinking.
I was on my way to Midway airport to pick up my friend Kevin, flying in from Louisville. About 10 minutes into the commute he called. His flight was delayed by 1 hour. I continued down 55, exited onto Cicero, and planned to stop at Starbucks for my newly discovered extra hour.
Waiting at the longest stoplight in the world, I was fascinated by the man selling the Chicago Tribune on the corner. He was skinny, shivering, and didn't appear very coordinated. He stood, agitated - holding his newspapers high, looking each driver in the eye as we passed by. He had something to offer that we might desire.
I watched him grow even more frustrated as dozens of cars passed, no one even slowed down to consider buying a paper. Some drivers looked confused, while others avoided the potential danger of rolling down their window.
Now, from the window at Starbucks I can see another man standing on the corner. This time ... a traffic cop (with "City of Chicago" written in bright orange across his vest) stood on the corner sidewalk in the pouring rain. As customers exit out of Starbucks, they are greeted by the man with an offer to help them across the street. He stretches out his hand, deflects the oncoming traffic, and walks with the pedestrians until they reach safety on the other side.
I haven't seen anyone turn him down yet.