Sidewalk Ghosts / By the Light of Chevy

It had been an incredibly long day. Rose early, directed ad campaign, wrapped the day and returned the last of unused supplies (I’m a roll up my sleeves guys, so I threw in to drop off rented props)

Helping me out was my friend and crewmember, Danny. Who without his help, I would have ultimately been buried in the task, and at 11pm we finally set path for home.

As we drove, Danny, knowing of my need to by the hour of 12am interview a stranger, said, “Look there is someone riding a bike! Let’s interview him?”

My first reaction was to decline, leaning on my self-imposed rule. I called it the third commandment. Better stated, don’t be a creepy stalker. It read, “Thou shalt not chase someone down!” Some other time I share with you commandment one and two.

Ah! What the heck here they are now. Commandment one, “never bother a person while they are eating!” Commandment two, “do not approach someone at work if it looks like they will lose their job!”

Back to the story: A beat passed as I began to consider Danny’s suggestion. I only had sixty-minutes left before the deadline hour and seeing no other photo option, just empty streets all around, I relented to my first instinct. Looped the van around the block and returned to the scene of our first sighting of said stranger.

Picture this: Two tired looking guys, a windowless rented cargo van cruising at a late hour in a middle class suburban neighborhood. You think we looked a little shady? Somewhat suspect?

Of course it was. We looked just like an abduction team. So, I prepared for a night of utter rejection, at least as long as we were in that ride.

On the horizon we spotted our target: The same one man, one bike, two dogs on one very dark street. Rolling up behind him (I know, so creepy) I slowed the van to match his pace. Window down, I called out, “excuse me” as I readied myself for a strong and possibly defensive version of get lost!

Surprisingly, he allowed me to introduce myself. Reasonably expected, he questioned my intentions and requested to see the blog. Thank you technology, I answered right on the spot as iPad in tow, I accommodated his request. Five minute later we were deep in conversation and again I found myself in the right place at the right time.

Please say hello to Mario and his two walking buddies, dogs Trojan (named after the horse, not the condoms) and Punky (have no idea of that origin).

The street was extremely dark and to brighten things up a bit, we decided to chat under light provided by Chevy headlights. Mario had a rich history of overcoming life’s obstacles and proved to be an inspiring testament to life rebuilt.

A changed man he was, Mario held no shame in sharing the fact that he was a past criminal, completed his parole in 2006. “I’m keeping my head straight and never want to lose my freedom again,” he stated.

Danny asked, “what was your first thought when we drove up?”

“I did not know if you were law enforcement. I have a criminal record,” He answered.

A statement that impressed me through the respectful tone he showed regarding the law. Very humble, accepting and peacefully confident Mario was. I saw a man of experience who had zero chips on his shoulder; his attitude better than many I know who have the cleanest of history.

He spoke with a profound and open countenance as we discovered his life was completely committed to helping others. Be it through the physical training business he was growing or through the volunteer service he provided via sharing his story with local organizations and schools. A truly rebuilt man, he talked as a banner citizen and it was obvious of his enthusiasm for a better future.

Both Danny and I were impressed by the physical fitness of Mario as he reflected on his outlook regarding health.

“Physical exercise is the key to happiness, and those missing out on it are setting themselves up for problems.”

He expanded, “Too many people rely on drugs and fad diets, rather than just practicing good nutrition and physical activity.”

“Did you know, 2/3’s of all Americans are overweight,” he summed up his observation. A frightening fact and one that motivated Mario to create the business he was building.

He shared the importance of good food and balanced activity, as he promoted a one with nature point of view. So much so, that his life dream was to own an organic farm. A business where he could not only produce the finest of products, but educate the public in healthy living practices.

I was captivated by Mario’s giving perspective and by his example of a life turned around. Mario was proof of the power of physical training and positive mind-set.

As one might have expected after spending time in getting the know him, Mario left us with a few challenges and promises:

One (simple and to the point)
“Get off your butt and exercise!”

Two
“If you stay in shape, I promise good things will happen!” And he could back it up with his story.

Three
“Keep your mind open!”

and Four (my favorite)
“Talk to your neighbors!”

Mario, If you read this, thanks again for talking to us!

Now I’m off to do my sit-ups!

Readers, get down and give me ten!

Talk tomorrow my good friends,

Richard

Readers, if you are returning, so nice to be with you again. If you are new, looking forward to getting to know you.

To all: please comment, like, and forward. Every engagement goes a long way toward connecting us; as together, we grow a movement that betters the way we view and treat one another.

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