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My eight-year-old daughter Amanda, one of her eight-year-old associates, and I were bike riding through Lincoln Park near Foster Avenue a couple of weeks ago when one of Chicago's finest drove over the curb and onto the sidewalk and told the kids to pull over. Out jumped Ms. Mad Max, complete with pistol, flack vest, combat boots, and black leather gloves with the fingers cut off at the first knuckle, claiming the bikes looked stolen and the kids looked like thieves. She reluctantly let them go, this time, after they explained Santa had given them their bikes. Then I saw it, on the signpost up ahead. We were in the "Safe Park Zone."

--Peter Rosenberg

It was Friday morning on the Howard-Dan Ryan line. On the southbound platform at Chicago and State, a stately woman in purple and blue ignored a red-line train idling in the station.

I identified with her instantly. The sixth and final car, where I watched from the very last seat, was crowded, as it so often is on foreshortened rush-hour trains. She had pride! This wasn't Tokyo! She'd wait for another train! Then I noticed her bare left foot. My god, I thought. She's crazy.

As passengers muttered impatiently, a figure in uniform materialized outside my window, climbed down the bars on the back of the car, and dropped to the tracks purposefully. It was then I noticed the navy blue shoe. It rested right side up on the tracks, none the worse for wear. The conductor grabbed it and offered it up to the woman, who quickly slipped it on her naked foot.

--Lauren Ruby

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