Monday, September 20, 2010

What's A Hero ... In Today's World?

Last week I hurt my back. Not bad—just a tiny pull that I felt for a few days. Don’t tell hubby.

I was showing off. Or proving a point. I’m bad that way. I felt like Spenser in The Professional by Robert B. Parker. In chapter 11, Parker writes: I tailed him for the next couple of days. I thought it might make some sense to see if I could learn anything. And in truth, I was probably showing off a little. When he’d try to tail me, I spotted him at once. I was behind him for the rest of the week and he never knew it.

No, I wasn’t tailing anyone. I went to Target to buy a bookcase for my office. One of those fold in things so if I ever get tired of it, I can fold the sides in and shove it beneath a bed. The day before I scouted it out—there were two of them—and they were on sale. When I went back, there was only one. Good thing, too. If there had been two, I might be under the knife right now.

I parked at the side of Target away from all cars. I knew I needed ample space to manipulate the thing into Rhonda, my little Honda. 2001-Rhonda actually belongs to daughter who became the proud owner of Lee, the much newer CRV. We did a trade—but that’s another story. The things we do for our kids, huh?

First glitch in the back was when I couldn’t find anyone in Target to help me. There was a little gizmo near the shelving that instructed me to push the button for help. I think it was a pretend button. I pushed—it resisted. No one came. In a hurry to get home, I picked up the boxed book case myself and positioned it in the too small buggy. Paid. Got out of the store.

I wondered how in the world I was going to get the bookcase in Rhonda—especially when I saw there were cars on both sides and a truck in front of her. I barely had room to maneuver. But I was in luck. A stout, nice-looking hero type was making his way to the truck. I shot him a glance through my dark glasses. Should I ask for help? Probably not. He looked the type who would surely offer.

He climbed in his truck without a glance in my direction. I unlocked Rhonda. I walked from one side to the other, assessing the situation. Hero wasn't making any offers. Finally decided that when Hunky Hero cranked up and drove away, I’d pull Rhonda into his space to have more room to manipulate my parcel.

I waited.
He waited.

What on earth was he doing—plotting a book? When I realized he wasn’t going to budge, I opened the passenger door, laid the seat back as far as it would go, picked up the book case as if I was Wonder Woman only disguised as an old woman, and heaved it inside. This is where I was showing off. It was lopsided.

Pretend Hero watched as I wrestled with the crate.
Pretend Hero watched as I tried to close Rhonda’s door ... and couldn’t.
Pretend Hero watched as I went to the other side, and yanked the boxed book case further into the pretend car. Poor Rhonda!

I stood straight and tall and in pain as I marched the buggy to the cart corral. Guess I showed him, I thought.

But all the time I was showing him I didn’t need his help, I wondered: What is a hero? Someone who would offer to help an old lady? Or someone who would wait for an old lady to ask for help? Got answers? Who do you visualize when you're creating heroes? What are the top five traits of a modern day hero?

Hey, put John Wayne, Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Clint Walker and Roy Rogers completely out of your mind. Those guys don’t exist anymore!


Charles Gramlich said...

Heroes have changed for sure. I have to say that for most of my life I've found my heroes in books. Characters like Rye Tyler and John Carter have the kind of character that I admire and would most like to emulate. Real humans? not so much.

Carole said...

It is unfortunate that the gentleman in question did not help out. He may have been worried that you were worried that he was a bad guy.

My ideal hero:

Person who will jump in mudpuddles with little children.

Person who is scared stiff but will still walk through a graveyard with me in the middle of the night.

Person who had a PHD but never mentions it and considers him or herself to be no better than the person living under the bridge.

Person who has a dry witty sense of humor and can lighten the most tense of situations with a quick word or two.

Person who will help people put packages in Hondas at Target parking lots.

Angie Kay Dilmore said...

Funny story, Jess. I think a hero is strong, brave, and courageous on the outside, yet sweet, tender, and loving on the inside.