About time I got suited up again

Hey, I don’t know about you guys, but how do you feel when it’s been way too long since you were active, on the streets and in full gear and helping others? It’s been like months for me and I’ve had various reasons, including concentrating on getting arrangements for HOPE 2012 / Comic-Con taken care of (which they are). And then being conservative with my funds to save up for that trip to San Diego. So I haven’t been especially eager to travel to either Minneapolis or La Crosse to meet up with other RLSHs. That stuff requires cash that I’ll need later.
So I’ve been an online RLSH for awhile and that’s been pretty much the extent of it. And it’s not like it hasn’t been sort of interesting and somewhat useful. I guess I can say it has been productive in a way. I mean, a small group of us were trying to do damage control on some of the interesting and volatile events that have taken place. Included in that, there were a few good friends who really needed to talk about the situations. And I was glad to be there for them.
But I still wasn’t suited up and on the streets… And I was feeling guilty. I mean, here we were being featured in Nadia’s awesome Metro articles. Other people have been asking for interviews. And I was feeling like a paper lion. A fraud. A myth. Because it had been so long since I had actually put on the suit and stepped out the door.
Well, Saturday I finally had no choice because it was one of my annual rituals: “Free Comic Book Day.” It’s a national event, sponsored by the comic companies and years ago, I figured it was a good way to make a lot of kids very happy. Thanks to my local comic book shop owner, we’ve worked out an arrangement where he orders extra free books and saves me a stack. I come into his shop on that morning and pick them up to take to kids who aren’t able to visit his store. I take them to family shelters and to Ronald McDonald House.
Craig, the owner, really loaded me up this time and every place I visit got plenty of books. The Book Review was plenty busy, but people barely took notice of me. Weird, huh? Craig even called me Geist instead of my real name, which he knows. Thanks to him, I’ll have lots of comics to give to various places throughout the year. Craig does so much good on that one day that he doesn’t realize. 🙂
So yeah, I took the comics around to the usual places and each time, everyone was so greatful. Heck, I’m just the gaudy “delivery boy,” but I get to hear their gratitude, while making significant mention of Craig’s shop, The Book Review, and his generosity.
It was awesome to have the costume on again and making people happy. It’s something that I really needed. Until then, I had started to get cynical, whiney and depressed. Doing good creates good in yourself. No doubt about it.
And yeah, I did have a couple of side-trips. I looked for a recent sexual assailant without success. I took four awesome loaves of Great Harvest bread to a homeless shelter.
But then, I saw a homeless man in a median with the traditional cardboard sign. I didn’t already know this guy. He was young. 20s. I had some cash and went to a nearby Subway and got a value meal and circled back to him. He was still there at the busy intersection with his sign. I always enjoy the looks of people when I step out of my vehicle and wait for the light to turn to “walk.” I wait patiently while the person I’m headed toward is wondering who the heck I am, holding food to give them. It’s that little moment of amazement and mystery where the world just seemed to get a little bit more incredible for anyone who’s witnessing the event.
I reached him in the median and handed him the food while introducing myself. This is one of the busiest intersections in town. He thanked me profusely, saying that was exactly what he needed and we began to talk. He had just used up his two weeks at the homeless shelter that I had donated bread to. He didn’t know where he was going to spend the night next and was going to have to ask friends if they could put him up.
He seemed clean, well-mannered and completely honest and sober. He explained that he has skills and experience, but just can’t get hired. He’s been up and been down. He applies for jobs and doesn’t get called. I suggested we go to the corner instead of the median. Cars were passing us constantly. I apologized for taking time away from his potential opportunities and he again thanked me for the foot-long.
He told me that when he does get some cash, he has to buy diapers instead of food. He has a baby and a fiancee. I didn’t get into the details, but it sounded like a tough situation that I can’t begin to understand and have no business being nosy about.
As I made my excuses to leave, I looked at his face again. It was an honest face with a clear determination to earn his own keep. I could tell that he was shamed by what he was doing, begging in that median. It wasn’t what he wanted to do at all, but a last resort. He had pride, but this seemed to be the last option for him. I pulled out my money clip and put what was in it in his hands. He tried to refuse, saying that I had done enough, but I made him take the small sum that it was.
I wished him luck and realized I never caught the guy’s name. Stupid me…
It was a good patrol. And it was about time that I was able to help someone who needed it. I guess more than one, but it was definitely nice to have a face and personality on the last part of the patrol.