Normal, Illinois: Day 1

After I left Elkhart on Monday evening, I headed to South Bend.  I found a nice corner to play on and played there for over an hour- to a ghost town.  Nothing much going on in South Bend on a Monday night.  Although, there were 2 people who stopped and listened for a few.  I stopped at a truck stop on the way to Chicago and sent out a couple of messages to people saying I would be there the next day. I got to Chicago, in the mid morning and found myself in the Bryn Mawr District.  GPS kept cutting out on me and that is where I wound up. I didn’t want to waste any time, so I found a place to park and went to work.  I was out there for over an hour and not one tip. Trying not to be discouraged, I found my way to the downtown area, it wasn’t easy but I found it. My friend Wes, suggested to play on Michigan St. so I went there and I could not believe how much it was to park! Wes also warned me about that- I was hoping that was the summer price, it wasn’t.  Anyway, I found street parking for a crazy rate but I thought I would give it an hour, before the rain came.  Before I could finish putting 1000 quarters into the meter, it started to rain.  In between all of this, I did stop at like Michigan, it was beautiful.  I figured I will kill a little time while I was waiting on responses.  Today is Thursday, I still have not heard a response from either.  I only spent about 4-5 hours in Chicago, I could not find my way around and I couldn’t afford the parking, so I left.  

I looked at the map and decided I would go to Normal. It is a small town just over an hour southwest of Chicago.  I got there a little after 7pm and found a spot and went right to work. Unbelievably, ten minutes later, it started to rain! I was getting very discouraged.  I had wasted a lot of time and gas over 2 days, I didn’t know what to do.  I found my way to another truck stop and called it a night. When I woke up, I got a coffee and went to where I was the night before, the Uptown Circle.  It was a beautiful day, though a little chilly.  I played my heart out for 90+ minutes.  In that time a man inquired about Holiday tunes, I said “Not yet, not till after Thanksgiving” and at that time, there were a few people coming up to me, all in a 3 minute period. The man said “I wanted to offer a job” it was for Saturday, I wasn’t planning on sticking around until then. Then the next thing I know he was gone! I didn’t really get a chance to talk to him.  I finished my shift, and it was pretty good. As I said to a friend of mine, it may be cold here, but the people are warm!

Counting on that previous statement, I went out at night, when it was even a little colder.  About 20 minutes into that shift, a young woman stopped and listened for a minute. When I was done, I asked how she was. She said she was having a tough week. As usual, I ask if there is something I can play to cheer her up.  “Autumn Leaves” she said. I said “You got it.” After I was done, it was quite clear, something was up, so I asked her. She told me. There was a tragic event in her family a couple of days ago- that is all I will say.  I offered her a hug, she took it and for the next few minutes, she cried on my shoulder, explaining what had happened. I would have stood there all night if she wanted me to. When she pulled away I gave her a napkin for her eyes.  She had somewhere she had to be, it was just a chance encounter really.  I am glad I was there at that moment though, to offer whatever I could in the way of solace.  

Later on that night, I talked to my brother-in-law about what happened during the day, and how I dropped the ball on the job that man offered me.  He told me “Stay there tonight and go back there at the same time tomorrow”  I was ready to go because it is cold here. He had a good point though, so I found my way back to the truck stop for the night.  More about this, in the next post.  Thank you for reading!

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