Saturday, March 15, 2008

St. Louis - Pay it Forward...

This week I was in St. Louis performing for CHA. I had a couple great experiences.

One, the venue/colloquium and people I performed for were just amazing. They took incredible care of all details, communication, accommodations, etc... By far, better than any corporate or private planning to date. During the shows, it was a blast to make such deep thinking people turn into kids. The multiple days were filled with meetings about ethics, health, etc. Having me at the receptions and dinners was a fantastic idea by Father Russel Smith
who was my contact and the person who requested my services. The Chase Park Plaza was amazing... multiple theaters, beautiful architecture, several classy bars and restaurants.

From the deck of my "penthouse suite", you can look into town and see the famous St. Louis Arch.... which leads me to the next experience.

To continue, I had to find a moment to shoot over to the Arch. On day two, I left on foot to walk a bit of distance to a subway terminal. When I got there and looked at the ticket machine with slight confusion, several down and out folks approached looking for handouts. Of course, I have a great response to this type of behavior if I don't have time to deal with it... I act foreign! There I was, speaking garbage language and then hearing several guys turn away saying "f@#$ing tourist... ain't got no money for me... don't speak the language... " etc. One guy was so helpful and gave up on his desire on trying to get a couple dollars from me. Without getting into too much detail about the "conversation" we had, lets just say that using gestures and very basic yes and no's with a "German" type accent, he (Ralph pictured below) really wanted to help me find my way easily to the Arch. Ralph turned out to be a heck of a guy who was down and out on his luck. He got me to the arch and was heading off on his way... I stopped him and inquired with a "language barrier" why he would burn up his only one hour pass to get me here and where was he trying to go, etc. This was a fantastic, gentle and giving older black man out of money. Of course, I gave him the 9 dollars required to get him the several trips away to home. This was a very interesting social experiment ending with a guy who made a friend with a "foreigner" needing help. I'm sure it made his day as well as it did mine. I continued with my day by going up to the top of the arch followed by a nice walk back to the hotel from the subway trip back across town.