Friday, April 25, 2014

At The Right Place At The Right Time

A friend just posted at her blog (click here) about how she was recently rescued by her friends when the car she borrowed because her’s had suddenly stopped working got towed while picking up her daughter from school. I know, convoluted. But in a matter of ten minutes life got even more complicated,

Usually this happens to me when I have especially low blood-sugar and can no longer function rationally—that’s when crazy gets even crazier. Why is it that things decide to go haywire when I need to either eat or pee?

Anyway, Tammy blessed me with her blog by basically telling her readers I was a saint. Not really. So I wanted to pay it forward today also.

Wednesday I had to drive up to Winnetka to pick up some artwork for a show I will tell you about at the end of this blog post. Driving back at a relatively slow speed I hit what felt like the curb. It was that abrupt. Wham! But, what was likely a pothole. I swear I NEVER saw it. Right away the car did this far-rump, far-umph and I knew I’d blown the tire. Great. I had borrowed the car and was supposed to have it back in one hour.

I pulled off onto a side street and put on my emergency flashers. No sooner had I stopped than a construction worker ran across the street. “You’ve got a flat.” Yeah, I answered, upon which he said, “Pop your trunk.” I obeyed. In fact before I knew it the guy had pulled out the spare and was jacking the front right of the car up off the ground. He pulled off the bolts, gave the flat tire a kick and it let go and then he installed the spare. He was like the pit crew at a NASCAR race.

Ten minutes later I was good to-go. I tried to give him $20 (and felt cheap doing so because it was worth so much more to me), but he wouldn’t take it. Come’on I said, “Time is money. I took you away from your job.” I held out the $20 bill, but he still refused. “Consider it a good deed,” he said.

And I drove off. I never asked his name. I wondered what the protocol was. I was embarrassed about everything and not thinking clearly—as I’d postponed lunch and using the bathroom, thinking I’d be home soon enough.

Anyway, he blessed me. Really. There is no way I could have problem solved it that fast or that thoroughly. It would have taken me half an hour just to find where the spare was kept.

It has made me think of all the people in the right place at the right time. People simply following their instincts—or else resisting their instincts and acting counter-intuitively. I was in Winnetka picking up photos from a gallery for a show opening tomorrow at Wilson Abbey. Bob Rehak was a young graduate in the early 1970s just getting by. He was an emerging copy writer with an ad agency downtown and daily passed the Uptown neighborhood. From his L-train-car window he’d look out upon the blighted neighborhood and think, that place looks scary. But one day he decided to get off the train and descend the platform steps and began taking photographs. Well . . . the rest was magic. That day in 1973 was the beginning of a collection that would grow to 5,000 images by the time he left in 1977.

In August of 2013, Rehak started a photoblog ( and posted several of his Uptown photos, thinking they might help land his company some commercial work that involved gritty portraiture. Within a week, however, the Uptown photos went viral. Since then his site has received more than seven million hits. The interest led to the publication of his first book of photography Uptown: Portrait of a Chicago Neighborhood in the Mid-1970s by Chicago’s Books Press.

About 17 of Bob’s photos will be on display at Everybody’s Coffee from April 26 – May 30. Opening Reception will take place Friday, May 2, 6 – 8 p.m. Please join us in celebrating a newly discovered treasure trove that will bring back many memories.

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