Blagica Stefanovski, NBC5 Street Team (Video)
Inauguration Day, May 21st, 2007…
I was excited to hold a simple invitation from the Office of the Mayor. It read something to the effect of: “Mayor Daley invites you to an Open House on Inauguration Day. 2-3:30 pm. ” For about a week, I was imagining a somewhat intimate setting with politicians, tea and perhaps a few media people. My plan was to take care of some early afternoon meetings, prance over to City Hall, say hello to Mayor Daley, ask him his thoughts on CondoPerks, then go home and cook a mean dinner. Boy was I wrong.
I left my usual Wi-Fi spot at the Randolph Argo Tea, said goodbye to Michael (he was upstairs studying for his wine exam) and trotted down to City Hall. Well, I didn’t trot, I was concentrating on my steps. Working from home, I usually run errands in Pumas, ballet flats or anything else comfy. I love my heels, but woo, honey, when you’re not used to a daily ritual of 3 inch heels, your dogs start barking at other people.
As I came closer to the Mayor’s Digs, I saw a line. It was 2:15 (the Open House started at 2) and I saw a sea of people halfway down Randolph. Now, I don’t see myself as some special a-list anybody, but this was my first official invite to anything Mayoral. Come on, I was excited. I didn’t how many other people would be in line to see good ole’ Dick Daley. I stood in line, which actually moved at a good pace and made friends with folks in line. At first glance, I noticed that most people were senior citizens. Where were the young folks? I think I received my invite because I went to a Women for Daley breakfast, but what do I know? I thought I was getting some quality one one one time with the man that was partly responsible for keeping my butt in Chicago, but instead, joined fellow Chicagoans in greeting the man. Oh well, it was a mutual respect that we all shared for Daley, so who cares if there was a line, right?
One word. Ouch. As I teetered and tottered from one foot to the other, trying desperately to not take my shoes off and expose my undone toenails. The women I befriended in line told me, ‘Oh go ahead, honey. If I was you, I’d be hurting’. There I stood, creeping my way around the corner to LaSalle. That’s when we realized the line continued around Washington, with the entrance being moved to Washington. I slowly made my way to the entrance, black bottom feet and all. I was embarrassed to enter City Hall barefooted, so I slid my Nine West’s back on….only to take them off on the marble floor when I realized I was in another creeping line.
City Hall staff handed out water (it would have been nice to get some H2O outside) and we made our way to the elevators. In groups of about 10, we were guided to the 5th floor where another, you guessed it, line waiting for us. This time, the line came complete with more staff, a metal detector and large signs reading ‘NO CAMERAS’. I gotta say, this whole event could have been a bit more organized. Everyone was grumbling as the invites did not elude to such a lengthy process of waiting. I took a deep breath, handed the Chicago cop my belongings, which she didn’t even inspect, and made my way to the door of all doors – entrance to the Mayor’s office. A big guy that could easily have gone by ‘Tiny’ or ‘Big Lou’ was there ushering us in to the doors. For a moment, I felt like I needed to know the South Side Bridgeport secret handshake, but with a smile and a nod, I was led through the corridor.
The Mayor’s team had representatives lining the passageway to his office hideaway, cheering us on with ‘almost there’ as if we were running a marathon. That was kinda funny. As I was laughed at the last two hours of inching my way around this massive building, I saw him. Red faced and glassy eyed from all of his hellos, the Mayor was at the front of his office door, receiving folks in a fast and efficient way. I made a mental note to invite him to my wedding next March and waited my turn to say ‘hiya’.
To Mayor Daley’s left was another aid. She got the name of the person coming in and in lightening speed, told that name to the Mayor. The Mayor then repeated the name with a hello and a handshake:
Aid: ‘This is Blah-gee-tsa’
Mayor Daley: ‘Hello Blah-gee-tsa’
Here it was. My moment. The moment to redeem myself from the only words I uttered to him years back: ‘Great job on the snow removal’. This time around, I thanked him for supporting one of the South Loop’s local small business owners (Cafe Society) and told Mayor Daley we were neighbors (kinda, he’s on 16th and Indiana and I’m on 11th and State, but take strolls by his house about 3 times a week). With that, it was over. My millisecond of greeting Mayor Daley was followed by aches coming from the bottom of my feet.
Was it worth it? Definitely. Would I have worn different shoes? Sure. There’s nothing like waiting with your fellow Chicago folk, talking about the weather, politics, sharing recipes and patiently snailing your way around a large building to see the one man whose bullish and passionate leadership reminds folks we aren’t a ‘second city’. C’mon. It’s a no brainer!
To Da Mare!