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Cup of Joe – Unheralded Heroes of my Life

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Welcome friends, grab yourself a ‘Cup of Joe’, pull up a chair and let’s chat for a while about a couple of the unheralded heroes of my life

Today is “Super Tuesday,” November 8th, Election Day for neighbours to the south (some to the east and west). It would be an understatement to say the past 12 to 18 months has not only captivated our American friends, but so many Canadians as well. I don’t want to present an exposé of who I favor in the race – or for what reasons that I favor her (Lol). You only need to refer to my Facebook page to get a clearer picture of where my loyalties lie.

I raise the 2016 presidential election because I cannot recall in my lifetime such a prolonged time period of negativity, divisiveness, fear mongering, and outright lies. While I believe one party takes greater ownership of these characteristics than the other, neither are exempt or blameless.

This election has shown us the darker underbelly of humanity. It has been very easy for persons to be affected by the constant assault of uncivil attacks and reprehensible rhetoric. This incessant barrage of negativity has been identified by many psychologists as a leading cause for the increased melancholy and depression experienced by so many today. The campaign has been an intravenous slow drip of hatred and despair.

All of this got me to thinking that if this is how I feel – and so many others feel – with respect to the influence the leaders in our countries have on us, then maybe we need to step back and reflect upon the people in our lives who have left an indelible positive impression on us.

I’ve been blessed through my lifetime to have had many positive, moral, ethical, truthful, and nurturing role models and mentors. I count among this group, first and foremost, my parents and family and friends. I also include many of my educators, work colleagues and so many others I have engaged with in social activities and in civic endeavors.

But aside from those people who have positively affected me and who make up the tapestry of my life, there are many others that I look at as unheralded heroes, and they have had a powerful influence in my life in small but powerful ways. And so, as an antidote to the negativity of the presidential election season, my thoughts were refocused lately on a couple of these heroes. I would like to share my experience with them with you now.

Each day I take my greyhound, Victoria, for an hour long walk from our home to the river and back. At about 6:45 a.m. one morning last I came upon an elderly volunteer street/sidewalk litter collector here at Victoria Ave. and Chatham Street, wearing the orange protective vest and equipped with a white pail and long-handled litter ‘picker-upper’. I watched this man as he did a thorough job of snaring and disposing of all litter (including cigarette butts) within his viewing area.

I was so impressed with his work ethic and community beautification efforts. I did a bit of research afterwards and found out that this unsung hero was a resident of St. Leonard’s House on Victoria Avenue. And for those unfamiliar with St. Leonard’s House, “St. Leonard’s House of Windsor is a non-profit community based agency dedicated to the integration of male offenders into the community as law abiding citizens in order to reduce the re-occurrence of crime.” (from their web-site)

Here is the conversation I had with this gentleman:

  • Joe: “Good morning, sir, and how are you this beautiful morning?”
  • Him: “Doing great, sir – living the dream. Business is ‘picking up’…”.
  • Joe: “I see that, and am sure there’s no ‘trash talk’ coming from you”.
  • Him.: “lol”
  • Joe: “But you do look a little ‘pail’…”.
  • Him: “Good one sir, you have made my day! Please have a terrific day and don’t ‘waste’ it”.
  • Joe: “, but one thing is certain, I won’t ‘waste’ any of it”.
  • Joe: ” I will try my best, and by the way, my dog Victoria and I thank you for what you do to make our city look better”.
  • Him: “Oh, I’m not doing all that much, sir. Just collecting some butts and cups”
  • Joe: “No sir, on the contrary, you are doing a lot and making a real, genuine difference. Thank you, and cheers!”

Okay, you’re probably wondering what was so life shattering about my encounter with him. I’m not sure. Other than there was a person performing what many would see as a menial or ‘lowly job’, but doing it with grace and dignity to the benefit of others. This deeply touched me. And he did so with a sense of pride and self-respect. And he gladly engaged me in a brief but decent exchange of puns – something I’m a sucker for.

I placed an anonymous phone call to St. Leonard’s House to thank them for their service to our community, and asking that they pass on my gratitude to their residents helping to clean up our downtown. They need to know that they matter and that they make a difference in our lives. This gentleman certainly made a difference in my life.

The second of the unheralded heroes to have touched my life in a special way goes back to 2011. And this is a person who I’ve never met, nor have any idea about in terms of his identity – but also someone I’ve never forgotten.

I refer you to the Facebook posting I made on Sept 11, 2011:
I want to thank the homeless person who found my wallet on the road at Moy and Wyandotte Saturday afternoon and turned it in intact in to a nearby restaurant – who, in turn, contacted my place of work about it – who then contacted me.

I had been out biking when it must have fallen of out of my saddle bag. The wallet contained my work badge and id, enhanced driver’s license, bank card, birth certificate, car insurance and ownership and some money. Though I will probably never know who you are, I am nonetheless so very grateful to you…

I tried hard to find the identity of this person, but was unsuccessful. I wanted to thank him in person and perhaps share a meal with him or offer him a small reward. Somehow I think, this hero was not about seeking recognition, but just to doing the right thing.

So, there you have it. You’ve just been introduced to two of my nameless yet unheralded heroes in my life that I frequently think back to when I’m in need of some uplifting and positive inspiration.

Two ordinary people with an extraordinary influence and impact on my life.

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Joe McParland
Joe retired January 2015 as a Superintendent from a 26 year career with the Canada Border Services Agency in Windsor. Since then he has jettisoned into a number of exciting new opportunities. Joe is in his 13th year as a volunteer with TVCogeco as their on air personality at Windsor City and Essex County Council Meetings, and his 11 years as a registered Ontario Marriage Officiant. Joe now shares his talents and numerous life experiences with Biz X as a regular blogger, columnist and any other “Joe – Jobs” we can find for him.