In the late 1970s I worked for a Chicago agency that trained adults with developmental disabilities, then sought competitive employment opportunities for graduates. I was the job developer, tasked with reaching out to prospective employers.
Late one summer I secured an appointment with the Personnel Director of a manufacturer on the far South Side (the company’s name – wait for it; you can’t make this stuff up – was “Royal Screw”). The director was genial, and open to hiring persons with disabilities. The company’s packing jobs were suitable for many of our clients, and the location convenient.
The business card I gave the director included the agency’s North Side address. Scanning it, he chuckled, then said, “For us, that’s a foreign country”, adding, “The White Sox are our team. The Cubs might as well play in Los Angeles.” When I told him I was that rarest of creatures, a North Side White Sox fan, he seemed pleased, and we talked about our team for a few minutes.
“A foreign country”: these words, spoken lightheartedly nearly 40 years ago, sound different today. The South Side / North Side rivalry has become an economic and cultural chasm. Our nation itself feels like several countries, increasingly alien and incomprehensible one to the other.
Sox fans are struggling with how to respond to the Cubs’ recent successes. We love our “second team in the second city”. Perceived North Sider arrogance and pro-Cub bias in the media have fueled resentment. But the signs of the times read pretty clearly. Chicago needs a reason for shared rejoicing, just like the nation. A World Series championship by a spirited team that looks like its city and its country provides a pretty good one. I’m doing my best to let go of some long-held grievances. Let the party begin. I’ll be celebrating too.