Reader to Reader | Essay | Chicago Reader

Reader to Reader 

The woman left her counter at a nearly empty Lincoln Avenue thrift shop to show a male customer some merchandise in the back.

"Anybody ever buy these bikes?" he asked.

"Nobody but you," she laughed.

He pointed to a pair of exercise bicycles. "And these don't move?"

"No, they don't."

Leaning on a handlebar, he asked, "So, how's your husband?"

"Not too good. He's got prostate cancer."

"How old is he?"

"He's 70."

The man started moving toward the front. "Well, that's not so bad. You know, they say with that kind of cancer that you'll die of old age before you'll die of the cancer."

She followed him. "No, but it's not so good. It's spreading. It's pretty bad now." She went behind the counter.

"Well, look at you. You're the picture of health!"

"Well, I'm a lifelong alcoholic," she replied brightly.

"OK," the man said. "Bye."


Reader to Reader welcomes (and pays for) anecdotes, overheard conversations, and slices of city life from 20 to 200 words in length. Send yours to Reader to Reader, 11 E. Illinois, Chicago 60611, or E-mail to

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Graphic Box.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Henchpeople Jarvis Square Theater
July 09
Performing Arts
July 15

Popular Stories