So, I'm in my home town of Chicago visiting family an accompanying my wife Holly on a little mini tour (she's playing at Martyr's tomorrow night at 7PM if any of y'all are looking for an evening of rootsy-funky-Milfy-Americana) and I've never seen this city more electric and alive.
Smiles and happy faces behind every counter and getting off every bus.
Today, while Holly was rehearsing, my mother, brother and I decided to take the kids to The Museum of Science and Industry. We drove down to Hyde Park... found a spot for the car... located the ticket desk... and that's where the "President-Elect Barack Obama effect" reared its ugly head.
I'm standing in line, waiting my turn, when an African-American woman walks up to me and says, "Hey, I can get one of your kids in for free."
I smiled, responding, "Thanks", but didn't think much of it, because she wandered off to speak to a friend at the same moment I got called to the counter.
I go through the rigmarole with the cashier... "two kids, two adults, one senior (sorry mom)", but just as I'm about to receive a total, the African-American woman reappears, hands over some sort of museum employee card and the next thing I know... I've got five tickets... no charge.
I turn to the African-American woman, and say, "What can I do for you?", but she won't take money and as fast as she reappeared... she was gone again.
We enter the museum... fool around on some farm equipment... then, in the "fun center" I see the African-American woman once again.
"Thank you. That was unnecessary, but really kind."
"Pay it forward," she tells me. "You asked what you could do for me? You pay it forward. We got a lot of change to make happen."
And that's when I realize that she's staring at my son Truman... who is wearing his Obama t-shirt.
"Change is coming," she says.
"Change is here," I respond.
The rest of the day at the museum had much the same feel.
A maintenance worker, holds out and open hand, looking for "five" from Truman. "Yes, we can," he chuckles." "Yes, we did!"
A family in the elevator smiles, "Nice shirt."
Another African-American woman... a grandmother probably... gets all misty eyed and shakes her head. Didn't say anything, but my script for her was, "This can't actually be happening."
I don't know how widespread it is... or how long it will last, but on this day, 72 hours after the election, there's a pile of goodwill in this little corner of the world.