It was a wickedly cold morning just like this when I walked a few blocks from my Ravenswood apartment, and was fortunate that there was a 145 bus, idling in the lot, awaiting its departure time. I don’t remember what was ahead for me at work that day, but my job at the time rather tedious–making truck parts fliers for an ad agency–so it wasn’t that different than the day before.
The driver saw me shivering outside and was kind enough to let me in before his run though it was technically against CTA policy.
As I sat down he pointed his index figure toward my face and offered this sinister warning: “You can stay on this bus as long as you don’t tell anybody what you’re about to see or hear.” Then “You got that?”
I nodded then put proceeded to unfold my copy of The Chicago Tribune.
With that he pulled a hard plastic case from the floor to his lap. When he opened the case and started to assemble its components, I saw the glistening of the metallic shaft he had in his hand.
I screamed with every fiber of my being, “My God! He has…. a FLUTE!!!!”
My winter morning commutes are rarely that appealing nowadays. Now they begin with scraping ice from the windows and many days digging out after being plowed in.
There’s never a walk through the brisk cold, with some chance encounters with neighbors, or strangers, or a bit of window-shopping. Those things all put a spring in my step, at least until I began the bone-dissolving work of staring at line-art renderings of spark plugs, oil filters, and mud flaps.
Though on that particular morning, the unexpected jazz performance set the tone for my entire day. It wasn’t just the music, it was the serendipity. I wish there were a way that I could plan serendipitous events. They would certainly involve more flutes and fewer cars.