Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lesson learned from a kid

The annual Silver Treasure Riddle game becomes 30 this year on November 2nd 2010. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the beginning. Hundreds of thousands of people have participated in some way. I've seen three generations of treasure seekers walk through my door. All of these people have had an opportunity to have a lot of free fun and learn a little more about carbon monoxide poisoning. It's been a lot of fun for me too. I also learned a couple of life lessons along the way. Some of them rather humbling.

I ride a bicycle, a lot. I can be seen all times of the daylight hours riding around somewhere in the Greater Grand Rapids Michigan area. Mostly I am simply another anonymous biker amongst hundreds, once in a while someone recognizes me and says hi. Around here I am also known as the Wyoming Riddler, a name placed on me back in the early 1980's by one of the newspaper reporters that have covered this game over the years. At first I kind of shied away from it. It sounded a little corny, but after a year or two I began to savor the notoriety. Yeah, I'm the Riddler. Felt sort of good. Then it began to go to my head a little too much. I began to feel important instead of being just one of the crowd. Then I learned a lesson from a small child that brought me back to reality.

I was riding along a busy 4 lane street and came to a stop at a red light. A car with heavily tinted windows stopped alongside and the rear window was rolled down about 4 inches. Little fingers folded around the top edge and a set of eyes looks intently at me. The front window rolled down and the woman in the seat asked me if I could pull over and sign an autograph, her daughter had recognized me and I was a favorite TV star of hers. I nodded yes and pointed to a parking lot across the intersection, we met there after the light changed. The woman handed me a small note pad and with my chest stuck out and head held high I wrote, "Have a wonderful day, The Wyoming Riddler" and proudly handed it back to the woman. She read the autograph with a puzzled look on her face. After a moment of apparent confusion she asked, "Why did you write Wyoming Riddler" we thought you were the cook on TV called Mr. Food? It took me a moment to recover and admit that I wasn't and rode off in complete embarrassment. My head deflated as I continued my ride home. Lesson learned!

So here I am, working on the final details of the 30th annual treasure hunt. A little humble in my memories at being able to meet so many wonderful people over the years. Thankfully I've learned that it has little to do with me but more to do with a free game and the coverage of the local and national news media. It's a lot easier to buy hats for a smaller head too............Joe

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