The newspaper vendor lost most of his sight years ago, but he knows
most of his customers so well he grabs their favorite papers off the
rack before they walk up.
John Tuider, 89, retains a mastery of the comings and goings at the Downers Grove Main Street station.
“I like people, and I’ve made an awful lot of friends in that station,” he says.
Tuider’s macular degeneration left him unable to drive, differentiate
currency or see directly in front of him. But his friends at the
station have pitched in to help.
One train rider gives Tuider a lift to the station. Another commuter
arrives an hour early to separate Tuider’s heavy bundles of papers into
stacks. There’s a ticket agent who counts his bills at the end of a
shift and a different commuter who drives him home.
None of his helpers know each other, but they know the others’ roles.
In a cramped, red brick train depot where people can resemble cattle,
commuters in this 48,724-person suburb say they look out for Tuider
because — well — because he’s a good person.
“When he’s not going to be here, it’ll be a big void for all of us,” says Pat Benda, of Naperville.
Tuider’s first job was delivering newspapers. When he was 16 or 17,
living in Cicero in the late 1930s, he took a job as a helper on a
newspaper delivery truck.
Back then, a driver would speed along alleys in the early morning as
Tuider tossed rope-tied bundles off the back with a “Yo!” to warn
people about the heavy airborne package.
If anybody who walked away with a million-dollar severance last year had a fraction of this guy’s dedication and work ethic, the industry wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in.