- On the cover: Illustration by David Alvarado. For more of Alvarado's work, go to hello-david.com.
Pundits say they're sure they know who's headed for the runoffs, but I'm not so convinced. This city can surprise you with attentiveness, thoughtfulness, and kindness, as much as it is also likely to gut you with blatant displays of self-interest.
A few years ago my bag fell off the back of my bike as I crossed a bridge. It held my cell phone, my wallet, and several hundreds of dollars in cash I'd promised to lend someone, as well as a handful of important documents pertaining to my economic prospects. The ride was long and by the time I got home, well, no bag. No way to call anyone, to cancel my credit cards or otherwise. I could straight-up kiss my financial health goodbye.
My Serbian neighbor poked her head out the window of my apartment building. "Anne! You alive!"
My bag, it turned out, had been found next to the river. A Spanish-speaking working mom with five kids, fearing the worst, started dialing all my recently called numbers and expressing her concerns regarding my apparent suicide in, well, Spanish. My recently called numbers were all literary types, and eventually one spoke enough Spanish to suggest that perhaps I had not committed suicide but merely lost my bag off my bike: I am known for my clumsiness but not my depression. This man, a writer, asked the woman to be at a certain McDonald's in an hour, and then—from Evanston—proceeded to call all of our mutual acquaintances until one was able to contact my landlord's Serbian wife because he lived down the block. She proceeded to direct me to the McDonald's, posthaste, without benefit of this clarifying information. I basically went because I had nothing better to do.
So half an hour later, I was surprised to find myself at a McDonald's with an extremely kind Humboldt Park resident, her five kids, hundreds of dollars of cash, and a phone full of texts from people wondering what the hell was going on, financial calamity averted. I bought the clan a round of shakes but my savior wouldn't take any further reward. She was—oddly, since we'd never met before—just relieved I was alive.
An utter stranger can have your back in this city, and kick off a chain of events that shortly has tens of people you don't know terribly well concerned about your health and safety. Usually when I think about that story I think about how, a few days later, I had to call up a very famous writer and explain to him that I was not dead, but today I'm thinking about this story for a totally different reason.
Today I'm thinking about how that woman votes.
Good luck out there next week, pals. If it gets too much we've invented a board game for your amusement, and of course there are plays, books, and shows to go to once you've trounced all your friends at Aldermania!
Just try not to forget that, end of the day, we really all are on the same team. v