Slice of Life: Four Black Men Chasing After a White Lady…

Date: July 13, 2011
Time: 6:37am
Location: CTA #8 bus

A middle-aged woman pulling a wheeled suitcase and with a crutch boards a southbound bus at Maxwell Street. The bus drives slowly as she organizes her fare.

I sit in my seat wondering if I should go up there and help her with her bag.  But it doesn’t matter. After a short discussion with the driver, she is discharged at West 14th Place for not having enough money.

As she hobbles away from the bus, no fewer than four burly men leap from their seats and start chasing after her yelling, “Hey, lady! What you need?”

They each pitched in and paid her fare.

I remain in my seat with my shame.

In the years I’ve lived in Chicago, I have only very rarely traveled south of The Loop. But for work reasons, I’ve been doing it pretty regularly for the last three weeks.

I can tell you that displays like the one chronicled above are not rare on the South Side.  I’ve seen more kindness and generosity between strangers in three weeks below Madison than I saw in three years living in the Gold Coast.

And don’t let the people who make their living off of the poverty and race industries tell you that Chicago is a city divided.  In the example above, the woman was white, and the men who paid her fare were black.  Other public displays of generosity I’ve witnessed have been similarly cross-cultural.  In the end, some people get it: We are all Chicagoans.

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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