Jeffrey and I had a long night on the train. The gentleman sitting ahead of us, bound for South Bend, watched music videos on his phone and sang along. We tired. Then he tired. What a relief!
As we passed Lake Erie, we saw riches of water and wood, farm and industry. Open spaces. People of all sorts. Some views from the train:
We arrived at Union Station about 40 minutes late. Deena met us. The trike was intact. We reassembled it.
While we worked, we talked with passers-by, including the Days of Wausau, he a retired urologist and a cyclist, she a retired psychiatric nurse, both of them friends of humanity. Tired Jeffrey neglected to take their photo. Just imagine two Americans, mature and kind.
Looking respectable promotes our causes (help for refugees, respect for cyclists). So after biking 6 miles from Union Station to the Avondale neighborhood, we went to a local barber shop where everyone prefers Spanish. We started a lively conversation in English about the presidential campaign, kindness to immigrants, and long-distance cycling in the USA and Mexico.
We left with good wishes from our new friends for safety and success on the road. Then Jeffrey enjoyed dinner with friends from college days, and with our hosts, Deena and David.
The point of this ordinary American day, is how extraordinary it is. Much of the world is chaotic and poor. Yet our country, for most people, most of the time, is rich, safe, quiet and orderly.
Our trip from NYC threw us in with, made us dependent upon, hundreds of strangers with hundreds of different backgrounds. The free market and our open society, regulated for the most part in accord with common sense, did its job. From our transport to food to a haircut, not all was perfect but everything worked.
Refugees don’t ask for much. Just to be allowed to stay in a place where it’s ordinary for things to work, where one can trust a stranger to hold a sharp razor to one’s neck, where people can speak and sing and travel and annoy, can sport religious headgear or a wild beard, can talk politics in one’s native language or in any other, and if they pull their weight and respect others, will be left alone.
These things are products of our collective efforts, to which both America-born and immigrants are essential. Refugees will join our collective and do their part to make things better for us and for themselves, just as we do for us and ourselves, if only we let them.
Join us tomorrow on the open road.