There I was, sitting at the Washington Street information desk at the Chicago Cultural Center, reading a book on a day when the cold weather deterred tourists from coming in, when I noticed an assembly of large men entering the lobby. They were obviously waiting for someone; the guard informed me that the Mayor was coming soon. He was appearing at a meeting in the building.
This information aroused my interest only slightly; I've seen Mayor Richard M. Daley before. I'm not very interested in politics, and he's no hero of mine. I do have a picture of him handing me an award for teaching some years ago.
As time passed and I read on, the retainers began to get slightly anxious. Then, finally, the Mayor entered in his characteristic hat; he handed the hat and his overcoat coat to one of his assistants and proceeded toward the elevator. Imagine my surprise when he looked my way, came to my desk, and shook my hand, as a camera flashed. I am a political nobody, just an elderly Cultural Center volunteer, and he's not even running for office this year. An aide handed me a card for claiming a copy of my picture with the Mayor, but I'll probably decline.
This experience reminded me how politicians work. They seem to be on the lookout for hands to shake, even when they are being ignored. I remembered that when I lived in my Old Town condo, at least three other residents of the small building also displayed pictures of themselves with the Mayor. He surely gets around. I guess that's one of the secrets of getting elected: greet everybody like a long-lost friend and shake many hands. It seems to work for Mayor Daley. Will I vote for him next time around? Probably not, but I can see why he's popular.