Away back when, I had a baseball mentor cum philosopher who constantly reminded me that "things are not always as they seem". Some 65 years later, the wisdom of that expression continues to be reinforced through the experiences of my life.
For the past year, I have noticed a rather large, ruggedly-hewn man sitting on a roadside bench in front of a seniors apartment complex at the approach to the Saugeen River bridge in Southampton. Lately, he has taken to holding up cardboard carton signs with messages scrawled on them. For the most part I have ignored the wording on the signs, just as I have the man himself. "Just another oddball charater, with time on his hands," I thought.
I was right on one count. Ralph Dymer, a retired construction worker, does have time on his hands. He explains it this way: "I like to fill in some of my time each day by sitting on the bench in front of my building, but it can get boring so on the May 24 weekend I made a sign that said 'Happy May 24' and the response I got was unreal. People waved, honked their horns and smiled. Some even took my picture on their cell phones or stopped to have a chat."
Since the Victoria holiday weekend Ralph has made up signs saying "Have a nice day" and "The HST sucks!" and as before, the reaction from passersby has been gratifying for him. "I am having a ball with a piece of cardboard and paper," he states enthusiastically.
He even dressed in red and white for Canada Day and chokes with emotion as he recalls a busload of First Nation children who waved at him and shouted "Happy Canada Day, Santa!" back at him.
"It feels real good to make people smile," says Southampton's Sign Guy..."You should try it some time!"
One thing for sure Ralph, you've made my heart smile now that I know your story. Sorry I misjudged you in the beginning!
Indeed, things are not always as they seem.
Note: I have been looking for Ralph the past three days with the intention of taking a photograph of him, but his bench (with its two Canadian flags) has been unoccupied. I hope he is okay. I'll take his picture the first time I see him and attach it to this post.