Whew. Two and a half weeks in Chicagoland. Yep, Chicagoland. That's what we call it: Chicago and her vast suburban lands, including the lovely town in which I grew up. My observation that the Midwest is a friendlier place than the East coast isn't terribly original, but the difference always shocks me the first couple of days I land in either place.
At the post office in Virginia, the workers talk amongst themselves and seem mildly annoyed by the interruption of customers. At the post office in Wheaton, I was greeted at the door by an employee who invited me to use the automated system but, when I declined, handed me a number and ushered me into a short line. The lady behind the counter debated the merits of express mail for my shipping needs and noticed that I needed to re-write a suite number on my package. We chatted about her two daughters, and she ooohed and aahed over the baby. Despite our conversation, she had me out the door in three minutes, and that's with an impulse buy of some Forever stamps.
Outside, I noticed a police officer writing parking tickets (even in Wheaton, one must feed the meter). The unusual thing was that she was talking and laughing with passers-by. She even put down her ticket book to come and admire the baby, and informed me that she knew another person with my daughter's name, and that person was a lovely 16-year-old who played the viola. (Doesn't that sound auspicious!).
At this point, I started looking around for a bluebird to alight on my shoulder and sing Disney tunes. My mom's friend informed me that she spotted a bluebird the very next day in the forest preserve. No word on what it was singing, though.