Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sometimes Heroes Come In the Smallest Packages

Heroes are sometimes in the smallest packages.
My niece Kasey, 8, is a lil’ fireplug. My sister has always said that if I had a daughter, it would be Kasey. You see, she likes monsters, is a scrambling little athlete (soccer’s her game…I could never get into it, so she’s one up on me), and she has an infectious personality. I’m thrilled any time my sister says Kasey reminds her of me or visa versa.
Kasey and I have a little game. She’ll grab my hands and walk up my legs and torso, kinda like when Batman and Robin scaled a wall in the 1960’s. She will giggle like a mad gal. Her little sister, Gabrielle, looks on and often breaks out into a big smile. Gabrielle and I have our own little game: she doesn’t like me much…or at least pretends to. However, when Kasey “climbs” up Uncle Trapper, Gabrielle, now smiling ear to ear, is next in line. Their other sister, Jacqui as she likes to spell it, sits nearby and shakes her head.
Last Friday, Kasey stumbled upon a young boy being bullied and physically attacked by a larger girl outside of their shared Catholic elementary school. Never one to let an injustice go by, Kasey strode up and attempted to break up the fight. In wrestling we call it a “run in.”
Never mind the fact that Kasey cracked a hairline fracture in her spine this summer, horsing around in the yard. The larger, obviously more elementary Fight Club experienced hooligan twisted the adorable sprite’s arm back. Despite the pain, I’m certain she didn’t second-guess her decision to help the young lad. It must have been reminiscent of when George McFly saved Calvin Klein’s “best girl” by coming to her aid against the much-bigger Biff in “Back to the Future.” Check back in 20 years to see if that lad pays Kasey back with her hand in matrimony.
When my son and I talked to Kasey the other day, she downplayed the whole skirmish. My sister tells me that Kasey’s exploits are now the talk of the Johnstown Diocese, or at least the buzz around the kid’s mothers. She should be interviewed on Channel 6. Their studios are directly across the street from my mom and step-dad’s house, so the reporters wouldn’t have to go far. They already interviewed my shoveling step-dad a couple of years ago after a big snow. Kasey can be in the driveway in 10 minutes thanks to side streets.
I thought of Kasey this week when I walked out of my office building. A twenty-something couple was having a heated discussion near a car. As I spoke with my son on our cell phones, I could overhear the young lady ranting about the guy’s presence. He leaned on a car, single-rose in hand. She wasn’t happy. He was letting her rant.
I listened for a few moments then, thinking about Kasey’s courage to help someone in need, I sauntered over and politely said, “Excuse me folks, is everything okay?” The woman stopped immediately, looked me dead in the eye and with some relief, said. “No sir, we’re fine. Thank you.” The young gentleman, maybe thankful to have her stop raving for a minute, turned and ‘we’re okay.’” I said, “have a nice day” and walked away.
Less than two minutes later, they were gone, perhaps their separate ways, perhaps together. Their mini-yet-to-spike quarrel over. Our sleepy lil’ parking lot quiet again.
A co-worker smile when he saw me try the duo. I didn’t want to risk the chance that the whole argument was set up on TV and I’d have to sign a waver to show my expansive posterior simply walk by like an ignoramus as two actors hammed it up for the camera ala 20/20 or Dateline.
But I also had the courage to try and help, bolstered because an incredible 8-year-old in Johnstown risked an arm muscle to stop a true beat-down.
Integrity, character and determination are big ideals if you ask me. Sometimes those lessons are learned, thanks to the smallest packages.

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