"In the classroom, you try to avoid [political debates]. I try to anyhow, because my classroom is not my soapbox. It's where I teach literature." But when the topic comes up, Ptak seeks to discuss politics with students in a way that helps them learn.
"It's important to understand what you believe and why you believe it," she said. Being honest about her views is key: "Teenagers are smart as whips and ... they will see through me in a moment if I'm phony."
Kevin Daniels, 34, Ukrainian Village
Job: Bartender at the Gage
Bartenders often are part social worker, part therapist, part stand-up comic and part mixologist. So Daniels keeps his conversation focused on his customers.
"I keep it completely neutral [and] I feed off their conversations. ... They're the star of the show, not me."
Patrons hot to know Daniels' opinions mostly are going to go away disappointed.
"I kind of move on and then we talk about something else. Always talk about sports," he said. "You know, Obama plays basketball."
Lindsay Philiben, 33, West Town
Job: Lawyer in general commercial litigation for firm Baker & McKenzie
Philiben said her politics are pretty transparent—in a former job, she worked at a firm that did opposition research for Democrats. Debating with co-workers goes with the territory. They're lawyers, after all. But with clients, she doesn't believe the topic needs much airing.
"You can usually find something that is sunny or at least relevant that doesn't necessarily insult anyone," she said. "It's knowing your audience and knowing who you're talking to."
firstname.lastname@example.org | @gcgarvey