Tag Archives: Charity Newsie

But that’s not the funny part…

Yesterday was a crappy day around Columbus, Ohio.  What had been two to five inches of snow was slowly being drenched by a steady just-above-freezing drizzle.  The Charity Newsies were out in force and I had errands to run.

For those of you not in Franklin County, the Charity Newsies is a benevolent group that one week-end a year raise money by selling a specially printed edition of the Columbus Dispatch.  A very large proportion of moneys received actually goes to helping poor children, which puts them above several other high-overhead charities in my estimation.  The Charity Newsies wear white jumpsuits with the group’s logo on the back, accented with personalized headgear.  I saw one man with an Elvis pompadour wig that made him at least six inches taller.  They stand in traffic, hawking their papers to passersby in exchange for donations.  In the cold. And the drizzle.  And the streams of cars filled with drivers overtaken with the spirit of Christmas shopping.

But that’s not the funny part…

I had urgent errands to run first thing: December is my birthday month (don’t ask) and this year I not only needed to renew the tags on The Broom and The Sheepmobile, I also had to get a new license.  I sallied forth at ten to hit the DMV at its morning low-point of hysteria and found the line had already wound around to the door.  A nice civil servant, they do have such things you know, worked the line to help the clients prepare for whatever transactions they might have.  When he came to me, we ran through a quick interrogation and he closed with the announcement that the DMV only takes cash or checks.  I had forgotten my check book and did not have enough cash to refund two vanity plates and a driver’s license.  But, imagine that, the state of Ohio had installed an ATM just inside the door.

I stepped out of line and accessed the ATM, only to find it was refusing to give out any money.  Refraining from obscenities in a public place, I told the nice civil servant that his ATM was not and pushed my way out the door.  A quick excursion got me to an outdoors ATM that allowed me to withdraw the cash needed, though in the cold and the drizzle.  I returned to the DMV to find the nice civil servant replacing the cash module in the ATM as it had run out of money.  Imagine that in an establishment with a $35 minimum charge for anything.

But that’s not the funny part…

As I was headed back home, my wife called.  We own a vintage and costume store which was not overwhelmed with customers willing to brave the slush and the drizzle.  She had sent our son home to handle the store on her own and when he got there discovered that the weather had knocked out the power.  As I was calling him on my cell phone, using the hands-free mode to maximize safety in the slush and drizzle and charitable pedestrians, I was struck from behind by another vehicle while I was stopped in traffic.

But that’s not the funny part…

To fully understand the reaction of the young man in the silver Mustang, you have to know that my normal winter gear makes me look like a cross between Harry Dresden and Snidely Whiplash: black felt hat, green oilskin duster, handle-bar mustache.  As Abby who works at our store later said, he must have been wondering if he had a special rider on his insurance for hitting a super villain.  I came out of the car, no doubt with steam jetting from my ears, and descended upon the teenage driver who stood beside his silver muscle car.  He apologized profusely and wanted to give me cash for repairs but he didn’t have any and he was really, really sorry and was I allright?  I believe he wet himself.

Fortunately, there was only an exchange of paint and a slight sprain of my wrist from my clenching the steering wheel too hard.  I tried to calm him down by pointing out that neither car was damaged and no-one was injured.  I pulled a moleskin notebook from my duster pocket, another anachronism which I’m sure confused him and had him jot down his contact information, just in case.

But that’s not the funny part…

The punchline of this cold and drizzly day was that there had been a Charity Newsie standing in the center lane, just one car’s length in front of me.  He witnessed the whole accident and the furious conversation afterwards.  Then, while I was getting back into my car, he looked all around to be sure no-one would be blaming him for the incident and dashed off the street to hide in a drugstore.


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