This old-fashioned butcher in NW Indiana served as a good reminder of how we can all get along if we are willing to try.

What happens when a vegetarian Sox fan from the city walks into a northern Indiana butcher shop run by a meat-cleaver-wielding owner decked out in Cubs gear?

The answer, of course, is commerce. 

Visiting a local butcher in Michigan City this weekend, my husband and I stopped in to purchase some high-quality steaks for a dinner party.  We engaged in friendly banter, as Sox fans we congratulated the Cubs fan, and we admitted that, yes, we were here from Illinois just for the weekend as we selected some choice cuts of meat.  It was all very pleasant.

Until… the owner offered us samples of his signature house-cured beef jerky, which I had to decline because of the whole vegetarian thing. “Then who the bleep is going to eat these two beautiful steaks?” he demanded.  I suppose I pushed his tolerance as far as it could go.  My husband stepped in to rescue the proffered jerky sample while I assured him that our carnivorous good friends were on their way and looking forward to grilling out.

Tension slightly eased, we were able to make our purchase and leave on polite terms.  He probably is still shaking his head, but he did make a nice sale and we left happy customers.

Business is like that.  Customer service means serving all reasonable customers.  You manage through differences and celebrate common ground, working to complete transactions and move forward. 

The story resonates because recent politics suggest we cannot get along and cannot achieve anything together.  If you are reading this in print, then you know the election results.  Politics at the local, state and national level have underscored (exacerbated?) clear differences of opinion amongst us.  Our system by its structure has been divisive rather than collaborative, emphasizing a choice of one side over the other.  Winners and losers.

A candidate loses an election.  A community does not lose.  A referendum may pass or fail.  But society wins regardless.  Whatever the outcomes, it is time to start the process of rebuilding relationships and working towards common goals.  Even when – or especially when – we cannot begin to understand the other side.

Join the discussion on social media!

Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...