Hero and Master Storyteller: Charles Ramsey

9 May

Many of us have been fixated the past two days by hero Charles Ramsey, the man who rescued Amber Barry, her daughter, and two other young women that had been kidnapped a decade ago, and who were being held against their will next door to Ramsey.

We’ve been humbled by Ramsey’s down-to-earth goodness, his eagerness to do the right thing, and his response to whether he’d accept the reward for finding Barry.  “Give the money to them, I have a job and a paycheck. ”  Ramsey even pulled his paycheck from his back pocket to show Anderson Cooper of CNN during  an interview recapping the rescue.

We’ve laughed, too.  We laughed at Ramsey, calling Anderson, “bro,”  at his calling the 911 operators morons, and his telling-it-like-it is delivery of how the rescue happened.  On Facebook, all kinds of video clips, including an auto-tune remix version of a Ramsey interview are being put up.  And all kinds of commentary on him are being shared there as well.

Some of us are laughing with him, and yet, some on Facebook are afraid we are laughing at him, mocking him for his flamboyant oration of how this major news event unfolded.  A few friends on FB who are black are stating that they’re disappointed in some of the chatter from the black community that says Ramsey is “taking black people down a notch or two, making blacks look bad,” with his over-the-top recaps.  I’m glad my friend Warren spoke up on his Facebook post about Ramsey’s heroism, his everyday genuineness that’s hard to come by these days.  He felt like people were acting much like the time folks from the black community were ranking on Gabby Douglas’s hair after she won her gold medals at the Olympics.

One thing Warren, who is also a writer, and I agreed on, was that Ramsey is a great storyteller.  I just got back from attending a Writers’ Conference in Boston this weekend, and in one of the workshops the teacher spoke about bringing place and people alive on the page through writing.  He used a Tolstoy story as an example on how details can reveal a person’s character, and evoke a sense of place.

All I could think of when I listened to Ramsey describe, detail by detail, his rescue efforts, is that this guy is like a good writer.  He is a keen observer of detail, and so when he tells us about the mailman putting Ariel Castro’s (the kidnapper’s) mail in Ramsey’s mailbox by mistake, and how after returning the mail to his neighbor he jumped on his bike to McDonald’s, then afterward while sitting in his front room looking out the window hearing a woman’s scream that sounded like a car had hit her kid, and how he went outside with his half-eaten Big Mac, and saw a woman motioning to him from next door, and how he had to fight to get the door to his neighbor’s house off because Ariel had it all torture-chambered up, and when he tells us his neighbor was someone he “ate ribs with and listened to salsa music,” with, and he describes Amanda’s dress:  white tank top, hair up in pony tail, nice tennis shoes, mascara, and that she didn’t look like someone who was kidnapped, I was right there with him.  I could see his Cleveland neighborhood, the easiness of how his day started on his front porch, and the tension that built-up and exploded all around him during the courageous rescue and subsequent 911 call.

For me one of the deepest things Ramsey said was, “I ate ribs with him…”  It’s like he was signifying the ribs as breaking bread with your neighbor, like that’s how close they were–they ate ribs together.  I would be honored to get to meet Ramsey, to me a humble hero, and most engaging storyteller.  Like I said to Warren on his FB post, “I’m a vegetarian, but I’d eat ribs all day long with Charles Ramsey.”





www.youtube.com  CNN Interview Anderson Cooper with Charles Ramsey

Comments are closed.