The cooperative spirit that often shines through when a storm hits a community was nowhere to be found at Evanston's Dempster Plaza strip mall in early February. When I stopped by the Phar-Mor there during the snowstorm that left up to 13 inches, a plow truck that had been clearing the road directly in front of the stores had stopped its work because of a car blocking its path. A man sat in the late-model car with engine running, apparently waiting for someone in the Phar-Mor. The plow truck honked. The car didn't move. The truck driver rolled down his window and asked the other driver to move. He wouldn't.
Twenty minutes later, when I'd completed my shopping, the plow was still stuck behind the uncooperative car, and I trudged through the half-foot of sloppy, unplowed snow to my car, cursing the warm, dry, selfish man.
It's a chilly winter evening and I step into a popular used-book store on Lincoln Avenue. As I walk in I notice an official-looking man eyeing me and the other customers intently. As I go to the counter I realize that one of the other customers is Governor Edgar, and that he's now waiting at the counter with me. The manager of the store seems to be irritated and is purposely taking his time ringing up the other customers. There is a tension-filled silence; we customers are unsure of an appropriate greeting for such an important official. While this is going on Mrs. Edgar walks in, seems to sense the tense scenario, and patiently waits while the store manager finally rings up the governor's books. After the governor leaves I hear the store manager angrily saying that he wishes the governor would not shop at his store, as his bodyguard, who was shadowing the governor at the counter, was intimidating the store's regular customers. The store manager went on to say that some of his "regulars" left the store that night earlier than they would have normally.