I was going to title this true story “Welcome Bigfoot Friends” but then only Bigfoot fans would probably read it. And, if you don’t read this, you would miss out on meeting a father who marches to a different drummer, while making an incredible difference in the life of his son.
Nonetheless, here’s what you should know about me. I strive to be a Welcome Ambassador to Everyone I meet. I know that’s a tall order. I sort of act like a Walmart greeter on steroids. I smile, open doors, as I shop, make positive comments about team logos that I see total strangers wearing. When I see acquaintances and former co-workers in the wilds of the frozen food section of the supermarket, I start a brief catch-up conversation with them. I am a people person.
But what’s this story got to do with Bigfoot, a large hairy-ape like creature between 6.6-9.8 feet tall weighing over 500 pounds, covered with brown or reddish hair? He’s a legend hiding in the forest somewhere. Over the years there have been many eyewitness reports about him, large footprint tracks of him, handheld film recordings, audio recordings, blood and hair samples. There also have been many hoaxes and pranks related to finding Bigfoot in the wilds. But where there is smoke there usually is fire.
Stage set. Now I can proceed with my encounter.
I was waiting for the garage door repairman to fix or replace the runner on my garage door. My wife accidentally caught it backing up the car. I tried to fix the metal runner, but I crinkled the bend worse, making it almost unrepairable.
As the repairman ambled out of the truck, I opened the garage door and wondered if he would get the job done without installing expensive and new runners. He had jeans, and a dusty bulging black T-shirt. No uniform. No Mr. Goodwrench-look. He looked like a mountain man or a World Federation Wrestler. I know first impressions aren’t always correct, yet I wasn’t impressed.
I said hello and welcomed him to my garage and my problem, adding these works “I decided to get an expert to help me.”
He said, “I am not an expert in this area, but I have fixed a number of doors like this.”
He wrestled with the bent runner and after quite a struggle he bent it back to working form, and shot some oil into the little revolving wheels. He told me that I was all set, good as new.
I asked him if he wanted a bottle of cold water. He said that he had some in the truck.
I wondered what made this man tick; in other words, what he cared about beside his job. I thought that I might be surprised. I was already totally wrong about my first impression.
I asked, “So what do you like to do for fun?”
He eyes arched upward recalling a fun scene and he said, “I hunt for Bigfoot with my son in the mountains.”
As my mouth dropped open, I asked “Do you believe in him?”
He answered, “Well, we have fun looking for him. It’s an adventure. We don’t want to hurt him, just hangout. Maybe take a few photos. We bring fruit, nuts, and cold water to share with him. If he doesn’t show up, we eat the goodies ourselves. My son, Ryan, loves hiking and the outdoors.”
“How old is your son?”
“Well, he’s 12, but he has the mental age of 5. Ryan has a brain disorder. He literally has problems doing things. The nerve endings in his body are mixed up. He has to think things through to do normal things. But he has been getting better and better. That’s what counts. And he loves talking about Bigfoot, looking at pictures of Bigfoot, and learning about big animals. We frequently read together. I work two jobs so that I have enough money to get the best help for him.”
Tears circled in my eyes. I wrote him a check for his services, and said “Wait a second, I have a present for him, and I ran upstairs to get a copy of the poetry book Waiting to See the Principal and Other Poems.
I signed the paperback for Ryan and I said, “There are lots of lines that are repeated in my poems. Ryan and you will have fun repeating them. After awhile both of you will have them memorized which makes it even more fun to read.”
“Yes, he will love this book! And the pictures in it are funny too-something like Shel Silverstein’s books. Ryan loves all of his books. Thanks so much. I gotta get back on the road. Thanks again.”
“By the way, does Ryan really believe in the existence of Bigfoot?”
“OH, YEAH! He says Bigfoot is just a good hider.”
And I said to myself: we are all good hiders unless the right questions are asked by an interested person.