DESTINATIONS, Road Trips, TRAVEL, United States

Surprising a Friend

Travel There -Evanston to the Chicago Merchandising Mart

Ludger and Bill Swap Tales

Breakfast at Le Peep

This day had a treat waiting for us, but the first stop was breakfast. For for that, we went to the Le Peep we’d found the night before. Delightful Evanston remained delightful. We walked to the restaurant and like Terra & Vine, it was a neighborhood thing. The waitress knew everyone and all the patrons knew each other. The food was good and so was the service. An added pleasure was a community group having a meeting over breakfast and we enjoyed the dynamics of their decision making. It made for an interesting meal.

Our day’s treat was a good friend: Ludger! His wife is Tammy and the four of us have been friends forever. Ludger, Tammy and Bill have known one another even longer than I’ve known any of them. We see one another infrequently, but the love never fails. Tammy keeps an eye on us via Facebook and when she saw we were going to be in Chicago, she let us know Ludger was planning to be there at the same time. She helped to plan a surprise for him.

The Chicago Merchandising Mart

After Le Peep, Bill and I checked out of the hotel, loaded up the car and headed towards the Chicago Merchandise Mart where Ludger was managing his company’s showroom during some market days. We found someplace to park and started looking for Ludger.

When Tammy told us there was a show going on, I imagined a huge convention center type of show with lots of booths and people and badges. “Show” means something different at the Chicago Merchandise Mart. In fact, things were so low key I’m still not convinced there was a show. We were able to walk right to the elevator and make our way to the suite number Tammy had given us. The front entrance of Dallas Trade Mart has a huge desk inside and you’re not going anywhere until you show some credentials. That’s not the case at all in Chicago. No one cares that you are there and you can’t find a soul to help you either.

The “can’t find a soul to help you” part became important when we arrived at the suite number Tammy had given us. There was nothing there. It was an empty, locked up room.

First, we doubted ourselves. We must have just arrived at the wrong place, because we didn’t know where we were going. We couldn’t exactly call up Ludger and say, “Where are you?” It would ruin the surprise.

Then we looked for someone “official” to help us. The closest we came to that was part of the cleaning staff. Let’s just say they were less than helpful. We found an open showroom and asked about Ludger’s showroom. The staff had barely roused themselves to greet us when we walked in and when they found out we were not there to look at their stuff, they proved to be as helpful as the cleaning person.

So we communicated frantically and furtively with Tammy. She communicated frantically and furtively with one of Ludger’s employees. The showroom had moved and soon we were armed with the correct suite number.

We strolled into his showroom and he was giving direction to some of the employees. He politely acknowledge us as if we were potential clients and then did a double take. He said he’d thought to himself, “How odd, they look like my good friends Bill and Jane.” Then he instantly realized it was his good friends, but his mind couldn’t quite accept it.

It was such fun. We had the opportunity to do a little catching up, but he was there to do business and had an appointment. We were there for some sightseeing, so it was just a short visit, but it was wonderful.

Come back next week and we’ll take you to Millennial Park.

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