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dimanche 29 juin 2014



This was my first visit to the Windy City, by the lake to attend the annual meeting of the professional association I belong to, The Endocrine Society, They were expecting 8000 professionals belonging to the society to attend the four day meeting and I was excited to be at the meeting.
I arrived at the ORD airport, an airport I had passed through many a times but never stepped outside its perimeters towards the great city lying yonder. There is a metro station right at the airport and for $5 you can be downtown within about 45 minutes, I was at La Salle Station. It was a sunny day, and the first person I met gave me the walking direction to the Chicago Hilton Hotel.

At the reception, nothing unusual, nothing outstanding, but surprise was waiting at the Executive Lounge at the 24th floor. Thus began some of my nicest interactions with people who live here during my four-day stay.
The days were very busy. I was at the conference at 8 30 AM and did not get back until close to 9 pm to the hotel, soon it was time to sleep.
Angie greeted me very warmly at the Executive Lounge. They had already packed away the savouries and canapés and the wine. But she made available skewers of fresh vegetables and a nice glass of white wine. We talked for a little and I told her I would be back before I left the hotel four days hence. I made a point to rush up to the Lounge as I returned, since the Lounge closed at 9 pm and we exchanged a few words. Each time it was the same friendly smile and welcoming words and something little to nosh on.
I really felt close to her and felt a little sad saying good bye to her on my fourth day. I wish her well; she deserves the best in her future, either with the Hilton Family or elsewhere.

The second person was an employee of the conference hall. She had a smile as bright as the sky, she certainly was more cheerful than most of the professional participants of the conference. She was assisting with the “wheel of fortune” where the participants in the conference had one spin each day.  And won something. On the first day I won a small penlight which comes in handy to examine patients or when travelling. On the second day it was a nicely designed pedometer, to count the number of steps I had taken each day (I like to do 10 000 steps each day). The lines were always long for the “wheel of fortune” and while the professionals waited, she mingled with them, brightening them up with friendly chatter. She would look at the badges of the attendees and make a remark or chatter about their countries of origin. When she saw I was wearing a Cuban tag, she was over the clouds, as she had heard nice things about Cuba. Each day she would ask me something about Cuba. I told her that she should hone up her dancing skills before Cuba and that with her personality she would blend in well with the locals in La Habana, Cuba

On the third day, I told her that I would very much like a Tee Shirt of the society that was on raffle. When I reached the wheel of fortune, she took my ticket and handed me a Tee shirt without me having to spin the wheel!
The bag lady of San Diego was the next pleasant encounter.
The next annual meeting of our professional society would take place in San Diego in California. A booth had been set up whereby we can get information about San Diego, its hotels and attractions. I stopped to chat with her, and at the end of our conversation she encouraged me to put in my piece of paper for a prize. I never win a prize, I told her that is why I don't enter into any competition. No, I want you to put in your ticket.
The next morning there was a call from her informing me that I had been the winner of the prize. I went to collect my prize; she gave me the prizes mentioned in the brochure, plus a large white plastic bag. I thanked her and thought nothing of the plastic bag till I got back to the hotel when I opened it, was surprised at the collection of goodies she had put inside, including a signed copy of a book about SS Midway which is now a maritime museum in San Diego, a windcheater with San Diego written on it, which came in handy during my flight over the Atlantic a day later. A cap, a sunglass etc. completed the pleasant package.
Thank you, the Bag Lady of San Diego.

I had checked out of the Hotel and was walking towards the La Salle Station. I saw a CTA employee walking along and I stopped him to ask where is the entrance to the La Salle Station. He said, come with me, I am going along that way. I tagged along. Not only he took me through the quickest route, but was kind enough to pay my entrance as well.
Once inside the train, I asked him, where do I pay the $5 fare? He said, don't worry about it; I have taken care of it.
It was he who said, I have been living here for 30 years, originally from Michigan. People have a wrong idea about Chicago, they think we are not friendly people, but Chicago is a friendly city.

During my stay, meeting ordinary Chicagoans, made me realize that Chicago is one of the friendliest cities in America and in fact, the reception for a visitor is better here than in Miami!

Bienvenidos a Chicago! Y sus lagos y gente!
At this meeting, I had made up my mind that i will not do any networking or chat frivolously with any of the participants, but was looking forward to seeing the faithful endocrinologist from Cairns, Dr Ashim Sinha. I was not disappointed. He was there and it was good to spend a few minutes chatting with him over a cup of coffee!