Posts Tagged ‘hockey’

Yesterday evening was Day 365 of my Year of Giving.  It was absolutely brilliant.  It was so good to see so many past recipients of my $10 joined by blog followers, family and friends.  I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect evening.  If you want to get a taste of how the evening went, check out this awesome segment that ran on ABC-7 here in DC.  More to come on this when I write up the blog post for Day 365.

I hope I look as good as Margie does when I'm 65!

Now, let me take you back 17 days to a cold November 28th.  My brother Ryan invited me to be his guest at a Washington Capitals game.  It was there that I met Margie while she checked the tickets of the fans who entered the 200 level concourse. 

Margie, an usher at the arena for the past nine years, works all kinds of events.  “At first I didn’t care for hockey because I didn’t understand it, but I’ve learned some of the rules and things and now I’d probably say that it’s my favorite.”

A DC native, Margie and has four children and five grandchildren!  I wasn’t surprised to learn that she had worked in the nursing and healthcare field for most of her life as she is clearly a caring person.  She provided home healthcare for both children and adults; helping them bath, get dressed, cook, grocery shop, etc.  “I love helping people,” Margie said, “I’m a people person.” 

We laughed a lot.

She told me that this has been a difficult year for her.  “I’ve been having kidney and liver problems,” sounding positive despite the unfortunate circumstances.  She’s on several medications and hopes that her situation starts to improve soon.  It would be completely reasonable for her to use the $10 to help pay for the medications that she needs, but she decided to pass it on to someone who needs it more than she does; one of Margie’s daughters has a foster child who is expecting a baby.  As she looked down at the ten-dollar bill in her hand she said, “I know she could use the money.” 

I gave her a big hug before I left.  I look forward to seeing her again the next time I am at the Verizon Center.

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This post is a little out of order, but I will get caught up on the ones I skipped by this weekend.  I am getting behind doing my day jobs, planning for the Year of Giving Celebration next Tuesday, giving my daily $10 away and planning the next year’s commitment!  Trying to sleep now and then too!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I took my father to see a Hershey Bears hockey match.  I would often go to the games as a child with my Boy Scout troop.  I used to enjoy them, but this time I didn’t really enjoy it.  Partly I think because the people that sat around us were loud and obnoxious the entire game.  The other factor was that it became pretty clear that the fans showed up more for the fights than they did the hockey. 

The Bears easily won 4-0.  The nearly 10,000 fans packed into the Giant Center Arena would celebrate after each goal however if you really wanted to see cheering all you had to do was wait until somebody started punching his opponent in the face.  “I want to see somebody bleeding on the ice,” a fan who was behind us said casually. 

I’ve been to many Washington Capitals games and have not felt this same blood and guts mentality.  Anyway, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

After the game I suggested to my dad that we hang out inside the arena for a while since getting out of the parking lot was sure to be an abysmal experience.  He and I walked down a little bit to the area where wheel chairs are allowed and saw two older men chatting away.  At the first opportunity I inserted myself into the conversation and explained my mission.

George, a man probably in his late 60s or early 70s with cotton-like flowing beard, told me he wouldn’t accept the ten dollars.  “I don’t know why,” he started “just because.”  I turned to his friend Melvin and asked him the same question and got this response, “Well, I don’t know either, but if that is what you want to do than I guess I’m OK with it.”

It was incredibly hard to hear Melvin.  The acoustics were funky where we were standing and he was a bit of a soft talker so I feel like I got about 70% of the story.  The 73-year-old from nearby Campbelltown, PA told me that he’s retired from the transportation business.  “I loaded and unloaded the trucks,” he said just loud enough that I could hear him.  He also was a volunteer fireman for many years.

Giant Center Arena

To his left there was a metallic cane that leaned against the railing.  “I broke my pelvic bone,” Melvin shared.  “I did it right after a game here come to think about it.”  I wouldn’t be surprised if he fell trying to get through the aisles.  The aisles are so thin that you can barely squeeze in and out of the aisles.  I nearly dropped a platter of chicken tenders, french fries, ketchup and beer all over the row in front of me because I could barely get by some women in our row.  Not to mention that I too probably would have landed on their heads.  It’s possibly the most poorly designed, not to mention dangerous, seating area that I have ever seen.

Anyway, Melvin said he was doing better now and that this was the first hockey game he had made this year. 

I asked him what he planned to do with the money and he didn’t know for sure.  “I’ll probably use it to take my wife out to breakfast in the morning,” he said after pondering it for a moment. 

A man who looked to be in his 40s walked up the aisle and stopped to talk to Melvin.  It turned out to be one of his three children.  They got to talking and I figured it was time to go and said goodbye.

Melvin preferred not having his photograph taken and didn’t leave me any contact information, so I will probably never know if he reads this or get any more details on the whereabouts of that ten-dollar bill.  I wouldn’t have gotten a good picture anyway; the arena wouldn’t let me bring my camera in.  They have a strict no detachable lens camera policy which I think is silly.  “We do this to prohibit professional photographers from taking photographs at the game,” I was told by a security guard.  I was surprised since I always take my camera to NHL games and have never had a problem.  This was the second time in two weeks that I have been turned away at the gate of a sporting event for carrying something that was not allowed in the stadium.  Maybe I ought to just stay away from stadiums.

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A start of a new week.  Is anyone following the Olympic hockey?  I saw several matches this weekend.  Although I was shocked and thrilled to see the USA beat Canada, it was sad that Finland could not redeem themselves from the 2006 Olympics and beat Sweden.

As I am not working now and I have finished with my theatre commitments, I have some free time.  I have some consulting work that I am doing, but so far it is fairly flexible.  So, what do you think would be interesting to do with my time?  I keep myself busy volunteering, working out, consulting, job hunting, etc…but I have been thinking that I am probably missing amazing opportunities to travel or volunteer in unique ways, etc.   What do you think?  Let me know and be creative!

So on day 69 my $10 ended up in the hands of Lauren.  She is 26, lives in Virginia, and has a degree in horticulture from Virginia Tech.  Perhaps she would have came across my uncle Larry while at school…he was a professor at Virginia Tech in the Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology, and Weed Science – but she said that his name was not familiar to her.

Brian and Lauren at Brasserie Beck in DC

Anyway, Lauren was with her friend Brian having some oysters and Belgian beers at Brasserie Beck.  I had never been there and happily give it a thumbs up.  One complaint would be the noise factor.  It was so loud that the video I took of Lauren and Brian didn’t come out very good so you will have to use your imagination and trust me that they were a lot of fun.

Lauren tells me that she will give my $10 to a homeless person and promises to follow up with me to let me know about her experience.  

Oh, and as for the oysters, Lauren said they were amazing…her favorite ones there were called “blue diamond” she thought.  

They were Foodies of a sort…they told me about some of their other favorite stomping grounds such as: Zaytinya, the Capitol Lounge, and the Red Derby.  The Red Derby sounded pretty interesting.  Lauren and Brian tell stories of an almost secret location on 14th Street in Northwest, DC where there is no sign, just a red painted derby hat on the door (reminds me of the Quarry House in Silver Spring, MD).  They rave about the weekend brunch, the can only beer selection, and a variety of board games on hand to keep your group entertained.  On top of all of this, every Wednesday is Big Lebowski night where they play the cult film and offer White Russian drink specials.

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So today my brother Ryan invited me to go with him to see the Washington Capitals hockey match against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The game was a lot of fun.  The Caps won easily 6-1.  Even though I was happy to see the Caps win, I felt sorry for the Maple Leafs’ goalie, Vesa Toskala.  He is from Finland and I have a soft spot for Finns having worked for a Finnish company for 7 years and seeing how passionate they are about their hockey.

After the game, Ryan and I walked toward Metro Center and passed a guy who had several buckets set up as a drum set.  He was jamming pretty good.  I thought, I ought to give this man my $10! 

Garland keeping the beat in front of the National Portrait Gallery

His name is Garland although many people know him as the “DC Street Drummer.” He is 33 and actually lives in Baltimore, not DC.  Garland and I chatted for a while.  He told me that he had been drumming on buckets since he was 13.  He comes down to DC because street musicians do not need a license here and you can make a decent amount of money according to him.  “Here at Gallery Place, I make about $100 a night, but over in Georgetown on 19th & M I can bring in $150 easily.” Not bad for doing a little drumming on equipment that he says cost him about $20.

An interesting tidbit is that while we were waiting to talk with Garland we saw a young drunk guy dancing in front of the drummer trying to impress some girls.  He threw a dollar in the drummer’s bucket and continued to dance.  Then he pulled his phone or something out of his pocket and we saw some money fall to the ground.  My brother and I both tried several times to tell the whacked-out dancer that he had dropped some money, but in his highly inebriated state he motioned for us to go away and stop bothering him.  After he left, my brother picked up the money that had fallen and discovered almost $50 in cash.  He put it in the Garland’s bucket.

Garland has one large industrial size trash can and then an array of buckets.  All are on top of those orange-colored pylons that police use.  He uses sawed off mop handles for drum sticks.  The rudimentary set up doesn’t hold him back as he methodically keeps the beat for those who are passing by.

Garland said that he doesn’t drink or do any drugs.  You would think that he was on something given the tremendous amount of energy he has.  He proudly tells me about a movie opportunity that he might have and some other gigs that he has been offered.  He talks about all the kind people that visit him every day.  It’s clear that he has carved a niche for himself here in DC.  If you would like to see him, you can check him out here.  If you want to see him live, keep an eye out (or maybe your ear open) for him around: Georgetown (19th/M), Downtown (9th/Constitution), Dupont Circle (South Metro entrance), and Gallery Place (in front of the National Portrait Gallery.)  Garland gave me his contact details if anyone would like to contact him for work or to do a story on him.

He says that he will use the $10 to pay for food for him, his wife, and two-year-old son.  I note this in my small black notebook and start to wrap up the conversation.  I see my brother talking to one of Garland’s friends, Gary.  I try to eavesdrop on what they are talking about all awhile listening to Garland.  I am not successful.  I can’t understand either of them.  So I decide to finish up and thank Garland.

By the way…I enjoy street drumming.  I think my favorite street drummers are Jermaine Carter (Boston), some street drummers from Chicago (don’t know their name, but there are like 4 or 5 of them that play together outside the baseball stadiums and around some of the L stations, and the Brazilian carnival drummers.  There’s something about the way Jermaine Carter contorts his mouth when he plays that is reminiscent of Sammy Davis Jr.

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