After moving to Chicago over the summer, Amy Rosen has spent a lot of time getting acclimated to the city. She’s taken long walks around downtown and various colorful neighborhoods in order to learn more about them. She rides the CTA and rarely listens to her iPod in order to take in all the sights and sounds and possibly strike up any conversation that may come her way.
Rosen has also become used to the various panhandlers and beggars that tend to congregate in certain areas of the city. Including one particular man who stands outside the same drug store every night asking for money.
Though Rosen rarely gives the man money, she makes sure to always smile and say “Hi.” One evening, man simply smiled back and said “Hi,” rather than asking for money.
She was elated.
For Rosen, this signaled that she was finally part of a neighborhood, and therefore part of the bigger city she had grown to love and learn so much about over the past several months. This incident was the first time a stranger she had met actually recognized her and smiled back. She considered it a victory and a signal that she could truly start calling herself a local.
She continues to smile at the man every night, though he usually ignores her now. For Rosen, the ignore is at least an acknowledgement that he recognizes her and knows he knows it would be a waste of time to ask for money. And it still makes her very excited.