Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Dedicated to Heroes Among Us.

We all know that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. This might have been hard to grasp when we were young. I know I was disappointed when I found out that real heroes don't look like Superman. But then as we mature, the true beauty of a hero can be appreciated, simply by the fact that heroism shines through from ordinary people -- like our parents or siblings.

One day here in Flushing, I was witness to truly a great act of heroism. I was going into the Urban Terrain / Athlete's Foot on the corner of Roosevelt and Union St. to check out the sneakers. Coming out of the store immediately as I was entering, was a big guy huffing and puffing, and muttering something under his breath, that amounted to "if they don't gimme service I'mma take the damn thing."

Not really paying too much attention to it or the security system alarm going off, I thought "I wouldn't want to get in that dude's way," and continued into the store. This is where I first see the hero of this story. He's an average looking guy, average height, etc, standing around with a girl. I realized that they were communicating in sign language, and next that this average looking guy was trying to gesture to the store owner, a short, tough, old lady. He was trying to gesture that he witnessed the aforementioned tough-looking guy taking a shirt off the rack and sticking it down his pants before taking off out the door.

Due perhaps to the lack of verbal communication, the store clerk was ignoring our hero and even giving him a funny look. Giving up in frustration at the lack of results from the clerk, our hero bolted out the door, leaving his friend behind in the store. I poked my head out the door after him to see him racing down the block and whipping around the corner--apparently after the thief who left only minutes before.

I sat there in contemplation and a bit of worry crossed my mind. After all, our hero is a simple guy; an average chap. Who knows what he was about to get himself into. And after two minutes went by, and then three and four, I actually started to become concerned. Eventually, my concern/curiosity/nosiness got the best of me, and I too took off down the road and around the corner of Union, too. About a minute or so later, the hero was running back in my direction, waving a brand-new, flannel shirt in the air triumphantly. As he came towards me I felt a sense of relief seeing him in one piece. He was dripping with sweat, smiling like he'd just won an Olympic medal and zipped right past me back to the store.

By the time I got back to the store, he was already signing and gesturing the details to both his friend and to the store clerk, who by now was taking him a little more seriously. As a reward, the clerk allowed him to pick out a pair of shorts from the rack that had a sign that said "SALE: $5." Not exactly justice for such a heroic act, at least in this observer's eyes, but he was gleefully happy just the same, and that for sure is part of what being a hero is all about.

I'll never know what transpired over that few minutes when our hero was out of view and confronting that scary looking guy. And I probably won't ever know the hero's name. But at least I am able to capture the event here for others to ponder.

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