Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Your Accessibility Conscience

Close Encounter with Oprah

Filed under: Motivation — by Glenda at 7:18 pm on Thursday, May 7, 2009

Walking route to Hapro StudiosThursday, April 30th, was my first full day in Chicago. My intention was to go find Harpo Studios; I had mapped the nearly 2-mile route using Google before leaving home. But it was raining! And I didn’t have my rain poncho with me.

I ducked out for breakfast at a bakery cafe that I had found the previous night while searching for a place for supper. Being alone in a strange city without a clue where to eat was somewhat unnerving. I’ve never been so relieved to find a Subway restaurant open!

After breakfast, the heavens opened up! I dashed back to the hotel lobby and pretended to read the USA Today - like I was interested in hearing yet more about swine flu or H1N1 virus or whatever they were calling it.

Watching the rain through the large windowed wall, I decided to make a break for it when the rain slowed to a drizzle. I didn’t come all this way to stay inside, watching the rain fall; that was something I could do at home.

I headed out with the intention of buying a cheap rain poncho. Surely, a luggage store or a Target or Walmart or something like that would have one. I headed west. I guess I wasn’t on the right street because I found no such store. I kept heading west, ignoring the drizzle.

Another decision was made when I came to the Randolph Street bridge: keep going! I knew I was heading in the right direction for Harpo Studios; I just wasn’t sure how far North Carpenter Street was. And, I didn’t want to stop to pull out my map. Nothing screams tourist more than wandering around with a Google map!

Great curb cuts in downtown ChicagoThe further west I went, the worst the sidewalk became. What the heck do Chicagoans do to their sidewalks? They were all cracked, broken and uneven. They were a stark contrast from the sidewalks on the eastside – nicely maintained and fantastic curb cuts.

Bumping down one curb cut, one of my backup light covers popped out, which has never happened before. With traffic whizzing by, I wasn’t stopping to pick up a piece of plastic.

I now understood why President Obama is creating jobs by pouring money into infrastructure improvements. Some of those uneven cracks are lawsuits waiting to happen! Wheeling along Randolph, the sidewalk became impassable – and the area was becoming even more questionable.

Harpo Studios from afarI backtracked half a block and turned up West Michigan Boulevard – much better in terms of sidewalk and perceived personal safety.

A couple of more blocks and I spotted it on the opposite corner: Harpo Studios! Just then the sun briefly peeked through and I had a moment on the corner of West Michigan and North Carpenter.

After admiring Oprah for years, I was now outside of the hub of the action! The one thing I admire most is how she has built her own media empire and how she uses cross-media promotion to keep it all going. I’d love to hear more about her business side of things and how she fits in everything. At what point did she start hiring people for help? What was her first big break?

Sign for Harpo Studios: The Oprah Winfrey Show

I wheeled around the entire building, drinking in the moment.

People were lining up at the audience door for a taping. I was so tempted to try to get in, but I doubted I’d get far without a ticket. Besides, I looked like a drown rat and I was meeting deaf mom Karen Putz back at the hotel lobby at 3pm. I would have had no way to let her know I would be late because I was at an Oprah show taping. Next year! I was quite content with the experience I was having.

Heading in the direction of the front door, not that I was planning on going in (I’m not that brave!), I saw a uniformed man walking a shaven cocker spaniel. Sadie? Just then Gayle King stepped out of a limo, greeted Lady Sadie and entered the building. Damn, she IS tall! Ok, stay calm. Breathe.

I turned my attention to Sadie who was right there! The uniformed dog-walker indicated that she was looking to do her business – on the tiniest patch of grass. (Grass in inner Chicago is extremely sparse.) Otherwise, I’m sure I would have patted her – we were that close together. (Later, I thought I perhaps should have tried handing a copy of my autobiography to the dog-walker. Oh well.)

I left the adorable puppy do her thing and headed off to find Oprah’s Boutique in the next block. Much to my surprise, the store was on a corner that did not have a curb cut -  the only corner without a curb cut that I encountered on my pilgrimage. There was a nice wide ramp up to the store, but no curb cut to cross the street. I had to go along the street to the next curb cut and then backtrack a block to boutique. I understand that Oprah is not responsible for city works. However, surely some money could be found in that neighbourhood so that fans on wheels can safely get from Harpo Studios to Oprah’s Boutique.

Once inside the boutique, I was amazed by the selection available. Another way Oprah has monetized her brand! With limited space in luggage, I chose one t-shirt with a subtle O – purple, of course!

Karen Putz and Glenda Watson Hyatt finally meeting Content and satisfied, I headed back to Hotel 71 with enough time to towel dry before meeting Karen in the lobby.

People were amazed by my venture. Many of them had been to Chicago a few times or live in the area, yet had never taken time to do what I had done.

People, we live only once. Live without any regrets!

Oprah, I will be back in Chicago next May. I look forward to meeting you!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a cafe mocha. Thanks kindly.

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21 Comments »

Comment by Loree

May 7, 2009 @ 7:31 pm

I was reading this and just tingling with excitement for you!
And yes, you are a brave, adventurous woman!

Still smiling :D

Comment by Avril

May 7, 2009 @ 7:53 pm

What a great report, Glenda! I was in Chicago last August and loved what I saw of the city – so it’s really interesting to hear your perspective and experience.

Your story about the sidewalks reminds me of when I lived in Philadelphia. Some of the sidewalks looked like small erupted volcanoes! I used to joke that on the route I walked to school, the sidewalk routinely rose up and attacked me.

:-)

Comment by AnneShirley Manion

May 7, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

Glenda, such an inspiring story of your courage to take on a huge, unknown city and in the rain too. Shirley Manion

Comment by Theresa

May 7, 2009 @ 8:10 pm

You trekked quite a ways! For those not too familiar with the city, you went all the way through the Loop, over the river, over the Kennedy Expressway, and through the West Loop/Restaurant Row before getting to Harpo Studios.

This time you’re going to make me cry from admiration instead of laughter :)

Comment by Dr.Mani

May 7, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

“People, we live only once. Live without any regrets!”

Golden words. They will be heeded. Hope to see you on Oprah soon, Glenda :-)

All success
Dr.Mani
http://www.ThinkWriteRetire.com

Comment by Suzie Cheel

May 7, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

How wonderful and I could actually picture you at every stage Thnak you for sharing you adventure- that’s what is so wonderful about you my friend, no fear, I love it

So next year we will see you on Oprah

Love
Suzie

Comment by Des Walsh

May 7, 2009 @ 10:21 pm

You just go on being an inspiration to us all, and giving us lots of laughter in the process, don’t you?

Great story – and if Oprah doesn’t get wind of it and get you on the show then social media ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. :)

Lotsa luv

Des

Comment by Ricky Buchanan

May 7, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

Good on you! I’m glad you got to meet Karen too – I admire you both :)

If your scooter doesn’t mind the extra weight/space, I think you should ALWAYS carry around a spare copy of your autobiography and if you run into anybody famous or who you think could spread the word you can hand it out right there! You could keep it nice in a sealed plastic bag or something … ready for anything :)

Comment by Hilary

May 8, 2009 @ 12:38 am

Hi Glenda .. it’s wonderful to meet you .. I work with Giovanna Garcia .. and it’s so great that you have such magnificent joie de vivre.

Oprah .. has to be ahead for you .. and your pics are superb – great courage and attitude you have = a role model for us all.

Thanks so much
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters

Comment by Glenda

May 8, 2009 @ 12:24 pm

Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments!

I’m not sure whether making the trek was bravery or, more accurately, unfamiliar with what I should be afraid of. I didn’t know the area, thus I didn’t know what I should be afraid of. It makes me wonder how much of life we miss out on because of our fears.

Avril, I can see those sidewalks attacking you! They’re likely more dangerous than anyone lingering about.

Suzie, I still have Oprah in my “vibrational bubble”! It’ll happen, one step at a time.

Thank you, Des. I love “if Oprah doesn’t get wind of it and get you on the show then social media ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.” Now that sounds like a challenge! If French Canadian singer Bernard Lachance can get Oprah’s attention and land an appearance on her show, why can’t the Left Thumb Blogger? ;)

Ricky, I actually had three copies of my book with me. I didn’t think, until later, to give one to the dog-walker/usher/security-type guy. I wasn’t sure how far to push that moment. Now I’m thinking that I should have tried the “reverse shoplifting technique” – leave a copy in Oprah’s Boutique for a customer or staff to discover. Live and learn!

Hilary, thanks for stopping by. Giovanna is such a wonderful source of positive energy. I enjoyed meeting her at SOBCon.

Comment by Karen Putz

May 11, 2009 @ 5:18 am

Loved, loved, loved meeting you! Let’s plan for Oprah next May. I have gone to four of her shows (one was a double taping of Suze Orman) and all the shows are taped quite early in the morning. Oprah provided an interpreter each time.

The Mayor’s office has a disability division that could help with the curb cut. I have a friend who works there and will give them this info.

See you again next May!

Comment by Frank Stepanski

May 11, 2009 @ 11:14 am

Hi,

Great story. “Live without Regrets” Words to live by. Hopefully more of us can, including me.

Also, just wanted to say I read your book recently and really enjoyed it.

Comment by Christine

May 12, 2009 @ 12:49 pm

Glenda – what a great, graphic & entertaining story. I felt like I was on the journey with you!! Congratulations on your successful trek. Your courage inspires me…. I probably would never have ventured out on my own in an unknown city like that… but I will NOW!
YOU GO GIRLFRIEND!!!

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