Reader to Reader | Essay | Chicago Reader

Reader to Reader 

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As I hunted for snacks in a Wrigleyville convenience store, two women stared at me from the checkout stand.

"He's a likely subject," one whispered with a knowing smirk.

"Maybe he'll engage the clerk in an obviously ironic exchange," the other woman said. "Maybe he'll gripe that the Monday Trib isn't worth 50 cents--and then he'll pay with a hundred-dollar bill!"

I skipped the snack and headed for the nearest el stop. There, a disturbed young hipster approached me. I ignored him by staring at the tracks.

"See anything worth salvaging?" he asked.

"What?" I replied.

"Why don't you drop onto the tracks and start rummaging around? I'll stand here and think, 'He must see money to be risking his life like that.' Then, as the train pulls in, you can climb back up carrying something worthless--like a torn shopping bag."

"Why?" I asked, dumbfounded.

"So I can recount the incident in a smug, condescending tone my fellow Reader readers will love," he yelled. "I'll even get paid to do it!"

No way, I thought. The Reader would never pander to its audience by printing pointless, spiteful anecdotes about hapless citizens. The Reader's much too cool for that.


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